Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talk in the Enlarged Third Plenary Session of the 8th Central Committee of the CCP[1]

October 7, 1957

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

China has had two revolutions. During the period of democratic revolution it was anti-imperialism, anti-feudalism, and anti-bureaucratic capitalism; only within the party was there a struggle against the capitalist ideology of the national bourgeoisie. At that time there were two roads, the road of liberation and the road of colonialism. The socialist revolution is to eradicate classes, to eliminate exploitation; it is the proletarian revolution. In declaring that there is a primary contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, I hold that in theory there is no problem.

In 1953 at the Finance and Economics Meeting the general line was set forth; [2] initially we did not dare to propagate it throughout the entire party but instead we first discussed it at the county level. At the end of 1953 it was discussed at the Political Consultative Conference. The Propaganda Department drafted an outline for dissemination of the general line. During these past three and one-half years, we have dealt a severe blow to the bourgeoisie; we have also dealt a blow to the individual economy. Consequently this was reflected in the resolutions of the 8th Party Congress, which said that the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat had been fundamentally resolved. This statement was not incorrect, but fundamental resolution is not equivalent to complete resolution. Once the problem of political authority was resolved, the problem of ownership was fundamentally resolved, but in the economic and political spheres there was not a complete resolution.

Among the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois intellectuals, the rightists in the democratic parties, and a portion of the well-to-do middle peasants, there were those who opposed the people while standing among them. At that time this was not seen so clearly, but it was not totally unperceived either (at that time we were still carrying out transformation). At that time they were very submissive and obedient, so we said that there was a fundamental resolution. Today I emphasize this contradiction because they wanted to rebel. At the Tsingtao Conference this year [3] we saw clearly, and pointed out that in the urban and rural area there was still a struggle between the two roads. As this sort of class struggle has not been eradicated and the rightist elements at this time are wildly advancing, it must be said that there is a primary contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. But strategically the Tsingtao documents have said it well; it is all right if those at the meeting know what is primary and what is secondary. We have not talked about this for a long time. If we now add on to it, shaking heaven and earth, it would be bad. Now we must continue with the Tsingtao method of expression for three months.

There is also bourgeois ideology among the workers. Within the party the three big "isms" have also been unfurled over the bourgeoisie. The two roads ¾ the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, socialism and capitalism ¾ are the primary contradictions of the transitional era; for the time being we will not discuss them in the report. Have we discussed whether or not it is possible to mitigate the contradictions among the great mass of the people? On the other hand there are internal bureaucratism, sectarianism and subjectivism; we can write about this problem theoretically.

The relationship among the working people ¾ contradictions in the relationship between the party and the masses, the relationship between cadres and the masses, between the individual and the collective, between the young and the old, and among the workers ¾ are very numerous. If we declare suddenly that the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is primary, could this have an effect on the frank airing of views? Not necessarily, but it could cause squabbling among the workers.

There are two segments of the people; one segment has exploited people and one segment has not exploited people. In one segment few have been influenced by bourgeois ideology while in the other many have been influenced. After several hundred years it will be impossible to unfurl again the banner of the bourgeoisie; that is the struggle between the advance and the backward. When we say that large-scale class struggle has fundamentally ended and that contradictions have been fundamentally resolved, we are speaking of the political system and the problem of ownership. But in building the superstructure, the question of ideology and political power in large measures has not been resolved. Individualism, bureaucratism, idealism are also a matter of building the superstructure and must be resolved.

After the capitalists began to beat their gongs and drums last year, we immediately put forth the idea of opposing the bourgeoisie, They were unable to speak out. This was unpopular, and the result was disadvantageous to us. Afterwards we had a frank airing of views, and it was easier to manage; we acquired experience and it was easier to manage. We brought forth "let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend", and so they let themselves go. In the past the bourgeoisie had been subservient, and now they raised a great clamor. We had only brought forth frank airing of views and the rightists aired their views and made a great racket. We said that there should be a frank airing of views in literature, art, and academic issues, but they wanted to progress to politics. This year the Communist Party and the rightists have cooperated to find a method which is good: a loud and frank airing of views, posting of big-character posters, and carrying on great debates, meant the discovery of a comparatively more appropriate form. In Yenan we were not so daring, we had no experience, we did not forbid, but we also did not express. We had not carried out the socialist revolution and had no experience, and this episode of frank and loud airing of views had increased our experience. In the future we shall still wish to have a frank airing of views. Let a hundred flowers blossom does not embrace counter-revolution, however. We are able to have a frank airing of views once a year. To suppress the people as through they are enemies is very dangerous. In discussing contradictions among the people one must guard against adopting the method of suppression and coercion.

The first road is to assert that during the transitional period the primary contradiction is the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

The second road during a prescribed period should not be discussed in the newspapers, but the struggle between the two roads should continue to be propagandized. Do not add these two characters and avoid stirring up a lot of trouble.

The contradiction among the working people is today being resolved in the course of the frank airing of views and great debates. As soon as it is mentioned that the class contradiction is primary, there will be an adverse effect on rectification and transformation.

Three classes are included among the people: the proletariat, the bourgeoisie, and the petit bourgeoisie. A contradiction exists among these three segments of the people. This contradiction is a contradiction among the people, and it is also a class contradiction. There is a distinction between class contradictions and contradictions between the enemy and ourselves. Generally speaking, a contradiction among the people is non-antagonistic while a contradiction with the bourgeoisie has an antagonistic side. The central question is the contradictions among the three segments of the people. Among these a portion are covertly antagonistic. The contradiction with Chang Po-chun, for example, was an antagonistic contradiction. In confronting this kind of antagonistic contradiction one should adopt the policy of peeling away the outer skin of a bamboo shoot. Each year peel away a little. This year peel away some of the outer skin, but don't peel it all away. After two years of not propagandizing socialism begin again, and afterwards peel away a little more. The work On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People[4] was not mistaken, but it was not a complete as the Tsingtao document. Now the primary problem is not the remnants of feudalism or the remnants of imperialism (the contradiction still exists). Who hasn't said that Hunan seized 7,000 landlords and rich peasants, but suddenly there is a problem when you try to seize one Chang po-chun.

Complete as the Tsingtao document, Now the primary problem is not the remnants of feudalism or the remnants of imperialism (the contradiction still exists). Who hasn't said that Human seized 7,000 landlords and rich peasants, but suddenly there is a problem when you try to seize one Chang po-chun. The bourgeoisie and the bourgeois intellectuals, totaling 30 million including dependents, are a big problem. Al most the working class totals 40 million people. The largest of the socialist revolution are the bourgeoisie, the bourgeois intellectuals, and the upper petit bourgeoisie (in the countryside the well-to-do middle peasants). The bourgeoisie and the bourgeois intellectuals have leftists, while the great majority are centrists and the right wing accounts for only one or two percent. For more than 90 percent it is a question of education and a question of criticism. While we say that contradictions among the people embrace class struggle, the bourgeoisie, still enjoys civil rights. It cannot be said that the socialist revolution is anti-imperialist and anti-feudal, but the remnants of imperialist and feudal powers are the allied army of the rightists of the bourgeoisie. Therefore the landlord paper Ai-wen Hui-pao is anti-socialist.

At present there are 60,000 rightist elements (10,000 acting and 50,000 writing). In the future at most there will be 150,000 to 200,000. Of this number those that can be separated should be separated. For example, towards some engineering and technical personnel, natural scientists, and scholars, it is even better if they can be separated. We should work on them. Some people we should criticize seriously buy treat with leniency as for example Jung I-jen and others.

Now it is clear-cut: in proceeding through the transitional era from capitalism to socialism, the main (or fundamental) contradiction is the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between socialism and capitalism. Thus in social relations and interpersonal relations there has been a fundamental resolution, but there has not been a complete resolution. The landlords, rich peasants, counter revolutionaries, and bad elements endorse capitalism, and those who exploit people endorse capitalism. This is also a contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The struggle between the two roads will be resolved after a long period of struggle. "Main" and "fundamental" have the same meaning.

The resolutions of the 8th Party Congress declare that the main contradiction is the contradiction between the advanced social system and the backward productive forces. Speaking reasonably, one cannot speak in that manner, Now there are contradictions, and in the future there will also be contradictions. When cooperative have all been transformed into state farms which pay out wages there will still be contradictions. Socialism is comprised of two sectors: public ownership and collective ownership. In the future, contradictions will also arise between the two. The socialist system and the productive forces are fundamentally in conformity, but they also have areas where there is not total conformity. There are still short comings and it is incorrect to say that there is perfect conformity. When Stalin mentioned perfect conformity (official report, page 14) there arose a problem. The ideology of religion is not in accord with socialism, but we still want to repair temples. Repairing temples is done to achieve the goal of tearing down temples, why do we say, this is by and large in accord? Because it can develop the productive forces. India undertook a five-year plan and increased its steel output by 300,000 tons. We raised our output by 94 million tons. Our system does not impede the development of the productive forces. After several tens of years the contradiction between the collective and the state-owned sectors will be resolved, but there will still be new contradictions. When we have arrived at communism, we will not need the law of value and we will not need an army, the international environment permitting of course. Marx, Engles, and Lenin never said this sentence which is in the resolutions of the 8th Party Congress, but there is no harm in it. The meaning is that we must hurriedly develop production, strengthen the material foundation of socialist society; it is only that this was not said clearly. Strictly speaking, it is of course incorrect to say that the socialist system and the productive forces are not in accord. We are a socialist system developing its productive forces. A good many economists say there is a contradiction between our system and the productive forces and that the productive forces of a socialist system are backward. This sort of talk is bad.


1. Also see "Be Activists in Promoting Revolution", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. V, pp. 483-497.

2. See "The Party's General Line for the Transition Period", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. V, p.102.

3. The Tsingtao Conference was held in July, 1957, it was attended by the secretaries of provincial and municipal Party committees. See "The situation in the summer of 1957", Selected Works of Mao Tes-tung, Vol. V, pp. 473-482.

4. For this article see Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. V, pp. 384-421.

Transcription by the Maoist Documentation Project.
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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung