Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


May 1963

[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Tse-tung Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]

(Based on discussions held on 7, 8, and 11 May; the following is a condensed summation of the four great problems.)

(1)  The problem of the state of affairs

The condition of production is better and better each year. The state of class struggle is grave and sharp. (Following are examples of the situation of class struggle in the countryside.) Why has such a grave situation appeared in the countryside? There are three reasons: a class reason, a historical reason, and the reason of understanding.

The class reason. The main reason is that the socialist society still is a class society with classes and class struggle existing. Correctly understanding and handling class contradictions and class struggle, correctly handling the contradictions between the enemy and us and the contradictions among the people are the guarantees of leading and uniting the whole party, leading and uniting all the masses, and smoothly advancing socialist revolution and socialist construction.

The historical reason. On one hand there are regions where the task of democratic revolution has still not been completed. There are areas where feudal landlords have not been overturned. This is a problem of renewed revolution. On the other hand there is the reason of the history of work. After land reform we did not handle class struggle again. We handled for a while the 3-evils, the 5-evils, and the anti-rightist struggle of 1957, but we didn’t use this sort of method. After 1932 the Soviet Union waged two purges in 1937 and 1938. Following these, 16 years passed in which there was no class struggle. Their collectivization relied upon whom? If class struggle is not waged, the dictatorship of the proletariat has no reliable social foundation.

The North China Bureau organs handled the 5-anti campaign well. One can say that it is a “Ch’ing-shui [Clear Water] Yamen,” but after purging, it purged again and many special cases arose.

The reason of understanding class struggle objectively exists, but it is not understood. How should class struggle be led?


(2) The problem of understanding

After the Tenth Plenum[1], [they] ran to 11 provinces, and only Tzu-hou and Yen-ch’un talked fluently and unceasingly about socialist education while the others did not speak. After the February meeting the situation again changed. For five months Honan had not grasped class struggle, but after the February meeting it grasped it very well. There was a change, but it was not an all-encompassing one. There were some regional committee secretaries who after the February meeting did not understand thoroughly, and only after going down to conduct on the spot experiments did they understand thoroughly.

I looked at Hunan’s second material. Only now do I understand a little, and that is that there is a two-road struggle between planning and production management.

I have asked a good many people where thought comes from. All were unable to respond. It is a common phenomenon of life that the material changes the mental and the mental changes the material. Illiterate peasants even understand this point. For example, you ask a peasant if he knows that Chang San is a landlord who oppresses us. Once you have the concept of “Chang San” and “landlord,” one can reason out a landlord is a person who oppresses people. The peasants’ understanding is derived from life, and an illiterate can also understand philosophy. Genghis khan was an illiterate.

A single word may rejuvenate a country, a single word may bring disaster to country. This is the mental changing the material. Marx is one word which says there must be proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship; isn’t this a case of a single word rejuvenating? Khrushchev is also one word, one which does not want class struggle and does not want revolution. Isn’t this a case of a single word bringing disaster?

Philosophy must be discussed in the course of practical work, it must be discussed at meetings. You must tell your comrade by your side that philosophy is not at all difficult. Military studies are also not difficult. Among the marshals and generals of our people’s Liberation Army only a few like Lin piao and Liu po-ch’eng arose from military academies.[2] Turning the pages of a book on military studies and reading the history of European wars are not relevant to the Chinese situation. It wasn’t the Whampoa Academy “foreigners” who defeated the “locals,” but rather the “locals” who defeated the “foreigners.” Comrade Lin Piao was enrolled at the Whampoa Academy for half a year. . . when he was sent out to command a company he was basically unable to fight. He had to listen to his squad leaders and fight according to how they said to fight. Military affairs are learned from practice. Therefore we must not look at Marxism as something so mysterious, nor must we regard philosophy as so mysterious. I looked at a portion of Hsueh-feng’s diary and this person understood little philosophy.

If university students study for five years, can they learn philosophy well? I don’t believe it. A good many philosophers did not study in universities. Of China’s philosophers, including Wang Ch’ung, Fan Chen, Fu Hsuan, Liu Tsung-yuan, Wang Ch’uan-shan, Li Chih, Tai Tung-Yuan, and Wei Yuan, none were specialists in philosophy. Hegel also was not a specialist in philosophy and his learning was very profound. Kant was an astronomer, and his theory of heavenly bodies is still valuable today. Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin also were not specialists in philosophy.

Philosophy comes out of the mounts and valleys. A report as good as Ling-ling’s did not emerge in Hsiang-t’an nor did it emerge in Ch’ang-te, it emerged in Ling-ling. Philosophy is only able to emerge amidst adversity and struggle. Philosophy arises from an adverse situation. Is philosophy able to arise from a propitious situation? Huang Kai-hsiung of the Three Kingdoms was a man of Ling-ling, Ch’eng I and Ch’eng Hao’s teacher Chou Lien-hsi, a great legalists of the Sung Dynasty and of the same school as Chsu Hsi, were also men of Ling-ling  —  from Tao-hsien of the Ling-ling special district Chang Tsai was from age 30 to age 40 in Ling-ling. At that time it was named Yung-chou. His article on landscapes and his article on debates with Han-Yu were written there.

Therefore we must smash superstition. However, we must pay attention so that we don’t act as we did during the past few years, smashing even that which shouldn’t be smashed.

A thing has both an appearance and an essence; we must penetrate the superficial to see the essence. The superficial and the essence are the unity of opposites. The essence cannot be seen so we must generate the superficial and grasp the essence. For example, if cadres do not participate in labor this will certainly give rise to revisionism. To cite another example, when we ordinarily walk along the road we do not see the ants and when we take great strides we see even less. We must squat down, and only then can we see many things. Otherwise it is not only the fresh sprouting things which we cannot see, it is also the majority of ordinary, existing things which we don’t see. For example, class struggle and cadres not participating in labor exist in large quantities, but there are people who nonetheless cannot see this. We must employ the scientific method and advance investigation and study. Some people subjectively and boldly hypothesize, subjectively and cautiously seek evidence. In Hopeh various regional party committees went down to investigate and study; only the Pao-ting area party committee was scientific; the others were all subjective. At first the Pao-ting area party committee did not go down to handle the four clean-ups; it went down to handle distribution. The masses did not agree and raised the handling of the four clean-ups. When the Pao-ting area party committee heard the opinion of the masses, it changed its plan and handled the four clean-ups. This then is genuine investigation and study.

In discussing philosophy we shouldn’t exceed one hour. Finish discussing it within one-half hour, if we discuss more we become muddled.

At the Moscow Conference I discussed philosophy and the Moscow Declaration[3] incorporated it but within the country no one discussed it.


(3)  Main points

What are the main points of the campaign? There are ten problems. Among these a portion are problems of understanding which require resolution by high-ranking leading cadres and by leading cadres. There are also some problems which can be resolved in ordinary work. In the course of ordinary work there are the following five main points

(a)  Class and class struggle. What methods should be employed to advance class struggle? We certainly must use the class viewpoint to analyze problems. The first to write the four great families was Ts’ao Hsueh-ch’in (Dream of the Red Chamber),[4] who wrote the four great families of Chia, Chih, Wang, and Pi. They were slavelords numbering 32 persons. Writing of slaves like Yuan-yang, Ch’ing-sha, Hsiao-hung, and so on is very good; these were the persons who were harmed. Lin Tai-Yu did not belong to the four great families.

(b)  Socialist education. There are two great methods of socialist education: the first is to take the spirit of the central committee and meet with the cadres and masses, discuss and understand clearly, link up with the concrete actions, concrete work, and concrete actuality, of the region, and allow the masses to open the lid.

The second is to urge the older generation to recollect again the history of oppression and exploitation, inspire a class sentiment, urge the younger generation to recognize that the fruits of the revolutionary struggle were not easy to acquire, and made them read the family history of the proletarian class.

(c)  Rely on the poor and lower-middle peasants. For 10,000 years there has been the question of whom to rely on. In the future there will still be idealism and materialism, the advanced and the backward, and contradictions between the left, the center, and the right. Who should we rely on today? There must always be a class. Rely on the whole people? To say rely on the whole people actually is to rely on a minority of the people. Some people say the landlords and rich peasants are obedient, the middle peasants are troublesome, and the poor peasants are muddled. How can the landlords and rich peasants not be obedient? After giving presents and giving women, they want you to listen to them.

What is “peace of mind”? When the poor and lower-middle peasants suffered oppression and were unable to lift up their heads how could there be peace of mind? If the poor and lower-middle peasants cannot be at ease, how can the cadres be at ease?

The bourgeoisie say that they will have no successors. How can they say that they will have no successors? The successor of Hegel was Marx, and the successor of the bourgeoisie is the proletariat. The bourgeoisie grasped “three freedoms and one contract”[5] and thought about rolling up land again. We must attack them in this aspect, strike them down at their foundation, don’t allow them to have successors like them.

(d)  The four clean-ups.

What is corruption? 50 yuan? 100 yuan? 200 yuan? It is necessary only to return the plunder forthrightly and it will not be considered corruption.

Plunder must be returned, and it must be in accord with the situation and with reason. It must be returned so that the hands and feet are clean, but the cadres also must be able to live after it is returned. To handle it in this manner requires the return of how much? Should the method of self-assessment and public discussion be adopted or not?

Those punished must be limited to one percent.

This year we will not prohibit killing, but next year we will discuss it some more. When the crime is extremely great proceed slowly. Handle counter-revolutionaries according to regulations. If the masses demand nothing less than death, and it is reasonable, your leadership can wait a bit.

(e)  Cadre participation in collective productive labor. The problems of corruption and enjoying more benefits can be resolved only when there is participation in labor. Hence it is possible to understand the situation of production, not simply float on the surface. If cadres do not participate in labor they inevitably must become divorced from the laboring masses and revisionism must inevitably arise.

The cadres of Hsi-yang have labored very well. Hsi-yang is on a mountain and is very poor, very poor, so there was a revolution.

We must take the basic-level organizations of the party in the countryside and place them in the hands of the advanced workers and the positive elements among the workers. (Some people say that there are labor models who do not participate in labor.)

If labor models do not participate in labor, what kind of models are they? Do away with them. There are some who because of too many meetings are too busy to make inquiries. This problem must be resolved. You can go down to the fields to make inquiries!

County cadres also must participate in labor.

If basic-level cadres do not participate in labor, aren’t they indistinguishable from the Kuomintang’s pao-chia leaders[6]. There are big officials and little officials among you. Even the authority of a little official is great. In the past an organization leader received a good deal of pay for his work. Now as for our basic-level cadres one is participating in labor and one in the four clean-ups; if you are unwilling to do this return home and become one of the common folk.

Cadres participating in labor who are corrupt, steal, and speculate are few. There has always been corruption, theft, and speculation; for 10,000 years this has been so. Otherwise dialectics would be extinguished and there would be no opposites to unify.

The more corruption is exposed the happier I will be. Have you caught lice or not? When there are many on your body, the more that you catch the happier you are.


(4)  Method

We must adopt a positive attitude.

(a)  We must pay attention to training and educating cadres.

(b)  Don’t be anxious. If we don’t finish this year, then next year, if we don’t finish next year, then the year after that. Wasn’t land reform handled for three or four years? Some people do not believe. Don’t admonish them. As soon as you surround them, they become anxious and confusion results. You must slowly persuade. Why should you be anxious? wasn’t our revolutionary victory more than 30 years later than the Soviet Union’s?

(c)  We must have on-the-spot experience, grasp deeply and grasp penetratingly while striding firmly and securely, we must guard against acting in a perfunctory manner while carrying out work, and we certainly must grasp on-the-spot experience.

(d)  We must distinguish between dissimilar situation, we must not handle national minority regions and border regions in the same manner. (Told the story of Ch’en P’ing of the Western Han Dynasty.) (To XXX) Your Szechwan is such a large province, can you handle it all at once?

(e)  Simplification. We must simplify and have some cadre go down to be tempered in labor, to be tempered in class struggle. I originally had by my side 20 or 30 people, while now there remain only some ten-odd persons. I said to Chiang Wei-ch’ing that Kiangsu has a population of more than 40 million and the 5,000 workers of the provincial party organs can be reduced to 1,500 or 2,000 persons. This is an old problem which for a long period of time has not been resolved.

(f)  We must grasp the key point. Don’t sing of heaven and don’t sing of earth, just sing the volume Hsiang-shan-chi. The volume Hsiang shan-chi tells the story of the return to King Chuang by a young girl (namely Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva). There are seven characters to a line, and the first two lines are these. Heaven and earth can be parted, don’t sing of heaven and earth, only sing the Hsiang-shan-chi. This is grasping class struggle.



1. The tenth plenum of the CC of the CPC was held during June 1962 in Peking.

2. The academy referred to here is the Whampoa Military academy. It was located at Whampoa near Canton and was established by Dr. Sun Yat-sen in 1924 after the reorganization of the Kuomintang with the help of the Chinese Communist Party and the Soviet Union. Before Chiang Kai-shek’s betrayal of the revolution in 1927, the academy was run jointly by the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. Comrades Chou En-lai, Yeh Chien-ying, Yun Tai-ying, Hsiao Chu-nu and others held responsible posts in the academy at one time or another. Many of the cadets were members of the Communist Party or the Communist Youth League, and they formed the revolutionary core of the academy.

3. Moscow conference: A reference to the meeting of Representatives of the Communist and Workers Parties of the Socialist Countries held in Moscow, November 14-16,1957.

4. Dream of Red Chamber is an eighteenth century novel.

5. Three freedoms and one contract mean: ‘the extension of plots for private use and of free markets, the increase of small enterprises with sole responsibility for their own profits and losses, and the fixing of output quotas [in communes] bawd on tie household [individual enterprise].’ Its implications tended towards adoption of ‘economism’ and revisionism, and directly contradicted the Socialist Education Movement.

6. Pao-chia was the administrative system by which the Kuomintang reactionary clique enforced its fascist rule at the primary level. On August 1, 1932, Chiang Kai-shek promulgated the “Regulations for the Organization of Pao and Chia and for a Population Census in the Counties” covering the provinces of Honan, Hupeh and Anhwei. The “Regulations” provided that “the pao and chia are to be organized on the basis of households; there is to be a head of each household, of each chia”, which is made up of ten households, and of each pao, which is made up of ten chia. Neighbours were required to watch and report each other’s activities to the authorities, and all were punishable when one was found guilty; various counter-revolutionary measures for exacting compulsory labor were also laid down. On November 7, 1934 the Kuomintang government officially announced that this system of fascist rule was to be established in all the provinces and municipalities under its rule.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung