Mao Zedong on Intellectual Work
Mao Zedong, in “Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work,” talks mainly about work by intellectuals. A key part of Maoism is about the existence of class struggle even under socialism. There are different contradictions inherent in the struggle for socialism and revolutionaries must be aware of them. In this speech he lays out some of the ways to resolve those contradictions, especially for intellectuals. He also looks at the class nature of intellectuals. This was written in 1957 specifically to circumstances in China at the time, but the universal truths that Mao wrote about was applied by other revolutionary peoples around the world. -Antonio
SPEECH AT THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PROPAGANDA WORK
March 12, 1957
This conference has gone very well. Many questions have been raised during the conference and we have learned about many things. I shall now make a few remarks on questions the comrades here have been discussing.
We are living in a period of great social change. Chinese society has been in the midst of great changes for a long time. The War of Resistance Against Japan was one period of great change and the War of Liberation another. But the present changes are much more profound in character than the earlier ones. We are now building socialism. Hundreds of millions of people are taking part in the movement for socialist transformation. Class relations are changing throughout the country. The petty bourgeoisie in agriculture and handicrafts and the bourgeoisie in industry and commerce have both experienced changes. The social and economic system has been changed; individual economy has been transformed into collective economy, and capitalist private ownership is being transformed into socialist public ownership. Changes of such magnitude are of course reflected in people’s minds. Man’s social being determines his consciousness. These great changes in our social system are reflected differently among people of different classes, strata and social groups. The masses eagerly support them, for life itself has confirmed that socialism is the only way out for China. Overthrowing the old social system and establishing a new one, the system of socialism, means a great struggle, a great change in the social system and in men’s relations with each other. It should be said that the situation is basically sound. But the new social system has only just been established and requires time for its consolidation. It must not be assumed that the new system can be completely consolidated the moment it is established; that is impossible. It has to be consolidated step by step. To achieve its ultimate consolidation, it is necessary not only to bring about the socialist industrialization of the country and persevere in the socialist revolution on the economic front, but also to carry on constant and arduous socialist revolutionary struggles and socialist education on the political and ideological fronts. Moreover, various complementary international conditions are required. In China the struggle to consolidate the socialist system, the struggle to decide whether socialism or capitalism will prevail, will take a long historical period. But we should all realize that the new system of socialism will unquestionably be consolidated. We can assuredly build a socialist state with modern industry, modern agriculture, and modern science and culture. This is the first point I want to make.
Second, the situation regarding the intellectuals in our country. No accurate statistics are available on the number of intellectuals in China. It is estimated that there are about five million of all types, including both higher and ordinary intellectuals. Of these five million the overwhelming majority are patriotic, love our People’s Republic, and are willing to serve the people and the socialist state. A small number do not quite welcome the socialist system and are not very happy about it. They are still sceptical about socialism, but they are patriotic when it comes to facing imperialism. The number of intellectuals who are hostile to our state is very small. They do not like our state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and yearn for the old society. Whenever there is an opportunity, they will stir up trouble and attempt to overthrow the Communist Party and restore the old China. As between the proletarian and the bourgeois lines, as between the socialist and the capitalist lines, they stubbornly choose to follow the latter. In fact this line is not practicable, and therefore they are actually ready to capitulate to imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism. Such persons are found in political circles and in industrial and commercial, cultural and educational, scientific and technological and religious circles, and they are extremely reactionary. They account for only 1 or 2 or 3 per cent of the five million intellectuals. The overwhelming majority, or well over 90 per cent, of the total of five million, support the socialist system in varying degrees. Many of them are not yet quite clear on how to work under socialism and on how to understand, handle and solve many of the new problems.
As far as the attitude of the five million intellectuals towards Marxism is concerned, one may say that over 10 per cent, comprising the Communists and sympathizers, are relatively familiar with Marxism and take a firm stand — the stand of the proletariat. Among the total of five million, they are a minority, but they are the nucleus and a powerful force. The majority have the desire to study Marxism and have already learned a little, but they are not yet familiar with it. Some of them still have doubts, their stand is not yet firm and they vacillate in moments of stress. This section of intellectuals, constituting the majority of the five million, is still in the middle. Those who strongly oppose Marxism, or are hostile to it, are very few in number. Some actually disagree with Marxism, although they do not openly say so. There will be people like this for a long time to come, and we should allow them to disagree. Take some of the idealists for example. They may support the socialist political and economic system but disagree with the Marxist world outlook. The same holds true for the patriotic people in religious circles. They are theists and we are atheists. We cannot force them to accept the Marxist world outlook. In short, the attitude towards Marxism of the five million intellectuals may be summed up as follows: Those who support Marxism and are relatively familiar with it are a minority, those who oppose it are also a minority, and the majority support Marxism but are not familiar with it and support it in varying degrees. Here there are three different kinds of stand — resolute, wavering and antagonistic. It should be recognized that this situation will continue for a very long time. If we fail to recognize this, we shall make too great a demand on others and at the same time set ourselves too small a task. Our comrades in propaganda work have the task of disseminating Marxism. This has to be done gradually and done well, so that people willingly accept it. We cannot force people to accept Marxism, we can only persuade them. If over a period of several five-year plans a fairly large number of our intellectuals accept Marxism and acquire a fairly good grasp of it through practice, through their work and life, through class struggle, production and scientific activity, that will be fine. And that is what we hope will happen.
Third, the question of the remoulding of the intellectuals. Ours is a culturally underdeveloped country. For a vast country like ours, five million intellectuals are too few. Without intellectuals our work cannot be done well, and we should therefore do a good job of uniting with them. Socialist society mainly comprises three sections of people, the workers, the peasants and the intellectuals. Intellectuals are mental workers. Their work is in the service of the people, that is, in the service of the workers and the peasants. As far as the majority of the intellectuals are concerned, they can serve the new China as they did the old, serve the proletariat as they did the bourgeoisie. When the intellectuals served the old China, the left wing resisted, the middle wavered, and only the right wing stood firm. Now, when it comes to serving the new society, the reverse is the case. The left wing stands firm, the middle wavers (this wavering in the new society is different from that in the old), and the right wing resists. Moreover, intellectuals are educators. Our newspapers are educating the people every day. Our writers and artists, scientists and technicians, professors and teachers are all educating students, educating the people. Being educators and teachers, they have the duty to be educated first. And all the more so in the present period of great change in the social system. They have had some Marxist education in the last few years, and some have studied very hard and made great progress. But the majority still have a long way to go before they can completely replace their bourgeois world outlook with the proletarian world outlook. Some have read a few Marxist books and think themselves quite learned, but what they have read has not sunk in, has not taken root in their minds, so that they don’t know how to use it and their class feelings remain unchanged. Others are conceited; having picked up some book-phrases, they think themselves terrific and are very cocky; but whenever a storm blows up, they take a stand very different from that of the workers and the great majority of the working peasants. They waver while the latter stand firm, they equivocate while the latter are forthright. Hence it is wrong to assume that people who educate others no longer need to be educated themselves and no longer need to study, or that socialist remoulding means remoulding others — the landlords, the capitalists and the individual producers — but not the intellectuals. The intellectuals, too, need remoulding, and not only those who have not changed their-basic stand; everybody should study and remould himself. I say “everybody”, and that includes all of us present here. Conditions are changing all the time, and to adapt one’s thinking to the new conditions, one must study. Even those who have a better grasp of Marxism and are comparatively firm in their proletarian stand have to go on studying, have to absorb what is new and study new problems. Unless they rid their minds of what is unsound, intellectuals cannot shoulder the task of educating others. Naturally, we have to learn while teaching and be pupils while serving as teachers. To be a good teacher, one must first be a good pupil. There are many things which cannot be learned from books alone; one must learn from those engaged in production, from the workers, from the peasants and, in schools, from the students, from those one teaches. In my opinion, the majority of our intellectuals are willing to learn. Given their willingness, it is our duty sincerely to help them study; we must help them in an appropriate way and must not resort to compulsion and force them to study.
Fourth, the question of the integration of the intellectuals with the masses of workers and peasants. Since they are to serve the masses of workers and peasants, intellectuals must, first and foremost, know them and be familiar with their life, work and ideas. We encourage intellectuals to go among the masses, to go to factories and villages. It is very bad if you never in all your life meet a worker or a peasant. Our state personnel, writers, artists, teachers and scientific research workers should seize every opportunity to get close to the workers and peasants. Some can go to factories or villages just to look around; this may be called “looking at the flowers on horseback” and is better than doing nothing at all. Others can stay for a few months, conducting investigations and making friends; this may be called “dismounting to look at the flowers”. Still others can stay and live there for a considerable time, say, two or three years or even longer; this maybe called “settling down”. Some intellectuals do live among the workers and peasants, for instance, technicians in factories, technical personnel in agriculture and teachers in rural schools. They should do their work well and become one with the workers and peasants. We should make it the common practice to get close to the workers and peasants, in other words, we should have large numbers of intellectuals doing so. Not all of them of course; some are unable to go for one reason or another, but we hope that as many as possible will go. Nor can they all go at the same time; they can go in batches at different times. In the Yenan days, intellectuals were urged to make direct contact with workers and peasants. Many intellectuals in Yenan were very confused in their thinking and came forth with all sorts of queer arguments. We held a forum and advised them to go among the masses. Later on, many did, and the results were very good. Until an intellectual’s book knowledge is integrated with practice, it is incomplete or indeed very incomplete. It is chiefly through reading books that intellectuals acquire the experience of our predecessors. Of course, reading books cannot be dispensed with, but by itself it does not solve problems. One must study the actual situation, study practical experience and factual material, and make friends with the workers and peasants. Making friends with the workers and peasants is no easy job. Today also there are people who go to factories or villages, and the results are good in some cases but not in others. What is involved here is the question of stand or attitude, that is, of one’s world outlook. We advocate “letting a hundred schools of thought contend”, and there may be many schools and trends in every branch of learning, but on the matter of world outlook, there are basically only two schools in our time, the proletarian and the bourgeois. It is one or the other, either the proletarian or the bourgeois world outlook. The communist world outlook is the world outlook of the proletariat and of no other class. Most of our present intellectuals come from the old society and from families of non-working people. Even those who come from workers’ or peasants’ families are still bourgeois intellectuals, because the education they received before liberation was a bourgeois education and their world outlook is fundamentally bourgeois. If the intellectuals do not discard the old and replace it by the proletarian world outlook, they will remain different from the workers and peasants in their viewpoint, stand and feelings and will be like square pegs in round holes, and the workers and peasants will not open their hearts to them. If the intellectuals integrate themselves with the workers and peasants and make friends with them, the Marxism they have learned from books can become truly their own. In order to have a real grasp of Marxism, one must learn it not only from books, but chiefly through class struggle, through practical work and close contact with the masses of workers and peasants. When in addition to studying some Marxism our intellectuals have gained some understanding of it through close contact with the masses of workers and peasants and through their own practical work, we will all be speaking the same language, not only the common language of patriotism and of the socialist system, but probably even that of the communist world outlook. If that happens, all of us will certainly work much better.
Fifth, rectification. Rectification means correcting one’s way of thinking and style of work. Rectification movements were conducted within the Communist Party during the anti-Japanese war, during the War of Liberation, and in the early days after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Now the Central Committee of the Communist Party has decided on another rectification within the Party to be started this year. Non-Party people may take part or abstain as they wish. The main thing in this rectification movement is to criticize the following incorrect ways of thinking and styles of work — subjectivism, bureaucracy and sectarianism. As in the rectification movement during the anti-Japanese war, the method this time will be first to study a number of documents, and then, on the basis of such study, to examine one’s own thinking and work and unfold criticism and self-criticism to expose shortcomings and mistakes and promote what is right and good. On the one hand, we must be strict and conduct criticism and self-criticism with respect to mistakes and shortcomings seriously, not perfunctorily, and correct them; on the other hand, we must use the method of the “gentle breeze and mild rain” and that of “learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones and curing the sickness to save the patient”, and we must oppose the method of “finishing people off with a single blow”.
Ours is a great Party, a glorious Party, a correct Party. This must be affirmed as a fact. But we still have shortcomings, and this, too, must be affirmed as a fact. We should not affirm everything about ourselves, but only what is correct; at the same time, we should not negate everything about ourselves, but only what is wrong. Achievements are the main thing in our work, and yet there are not a few shortcomings and mistakes. That is why we need a rectification movement. Will it undermine our Party’s prestige if we criticize our own subjectivism, bureaucracy and sectarianism? I think not. On the contrary, it will serve to enhance the Party’s prestige. This was borne out by the rectification movement during the anti-Japanese war. It enhanced the prestige of our Party, of our Party comrades and our veteran cadres, and it also enabled the new cadres to make great progress. Which of the two was afraid of criticism, the Communist Party or the Kuomintang? The Kuomintang. It prohibited criticism, but that did not save it from final defeat. The Communist Party does not fear criticism because we are Marxists, the truth is on our side, and the basic masses, the workers and peasants, are on our side. As we used to say, the rectification movement is “a widespread movement of Marxist education”. Rectification means the whole Party studying Marxism through criticism and self-criticism. We can certainly learn more Marxism in the course of the rectification movement.
The transformation and construction of China depend on us for leadership. When we have rectified our way of thinking and style of work, we shall enjoy greater initiative in our work, become more capable and do a better job. Our country has need of many people who whole-heartedly serve the masses and the cause of socialism and who are determined to bring about changes. We Communists should all be people of this kind. Formerly, in the old China, it was a crime to talk about reforms, and offenders would be beheaded or imprisoned. Nevertheless there were determined reformers who were dauntless and published books and newspapers, educated and organized the people and waged indomitable struggles under every kind of difficulty. The state, the people’s democratic dictatorship, has paved the way for the rapid economic and cultural development of our country. It is only a few years since the establishment of our state, and yet people can already see the unprecedented flowering of the economy, culture, education and science. In building up the new China we Communists are likewise not daunted by any difficulties. But we cannot accomplish this all on our own. We need a good number of non-Party people with high ideals who will keep to the socialist and communist orientation and fight dauntlessly with us to transform and construct our society. It is a colossal task to ensure a better life for the several hundred million people of China and to make our economically and culturally backward country a prosperous and powerful one with a high level of culture. And it is precisely in order to be able to shoulder this task more competently and work better with all non-Party people who have high ideals and the determination to institute reforms that we must conduct rectification movements both now and in the future, and constantly rid ourselves of whatever is wrong. Thoroughgoing materialists are fearless; we hope that all our fellow fighters will courageously shoulder their responsibilities and overcome all difficulties, fearing no setbacks or gibes, nor hesitating to criticize us Communists and give us their suggestions. “He who is not afraid of death by a thousand cuts dares to unhorse the emperor” — this is the dauntless spirit needed in our struggle to build socialism and communism. On our part, we Communists should create conditions helpful to those who co-operate with us, establish good comradely relations with them in our common work and unite with them in our joint struggle.
Sixth, the question of one-sidedness. One-sidedness means thinking in terms of absolutes, that is, taking a metaphysical approach to problems. In the appraisal of our work, it is one-sided to affirm everything or to negate everything. There still are quite a few people inside the Communist Party and many outside it who do just that. To affirm everything is to see only the good and not the bad, and to welcome only praise and not criticism. To talk as though our work is good in every respect is at variance with the facts. It is not true that everything is good; there are shortcomings and mistakes. But neither is it true that everything is bad; that too is at variance with the facts. Here analysis is necessary. To negate everything is to think, without prior analysis, that nothing has been done well and that the great task of building socialism, the great struggle in which hundreds of millions of people are participating, is a complete mess with nothing commendable about it. Although there is a difference between many of those who hold such views and those who are hostile to the socialist system, these views are very mistaken and harmful and can only dishearten people. It is wrong to appraise our work either from the standpoint of affirming everything or from the standpoint of negating everything. We should criticize those people who take such a one-sided approach to problems, though of course we should do so in the spirit of “learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones and curing the sickness to save the patient”, and we should give them help.
Some people say: Since there is to be a rectification movement and since everyone is asked to express his opinions, one-sidedness is unavoidable, and therefore it seems that in calling for the elimination of one-sidedness, you really don’t want people to speak up. Is this assertion right? It is naturally difficult for everyone to be free from any trace of one-sidedness. People always examine and handle problems and express their views in the light of their own experience, and unavoidably they sometimes show a little one-sidedness. However, shouldn’t we ask them gradually to overcome their one-sidedness and look at problems in a relatively all-sided way? In my opinion, we should. We would be stagnating and we would be approving one-sidedness and contradicting the whole purpose of rectification if we did not make the demand that from day to day and from year to year more and more people should view problems in a relatively all-sided way. One-sidedness violates dialectics. We want gradually to disseminate dialectics and to ask everyone gradually to learn the use of the scientific dialectical method. Some of the articles appearing today are extremely pretentious but empty, without any analysis of problems or reasoned argument, and they carry no conviction. There should be fewer and fewer articles of this kind. When writing an article, one should not be for ever thinking, “How smart I am!” but should put oneself on a completely equal footing with one’s readers. You may have been in the revolution for a long time, but if you say something wrong people will refute you all the same. The more you put on airs, the less people will stand for it and the less they will care to read your articles. We should do our work honestly, take an analytical approach, write convincingly and never strike a pose to overawe people.
Some people say that while one-sidedness can be avoided in a lengthy article, it is unavoidable in a short essay. Must a short essay inevitably be one-sided? As I have just said, it is usually hard to avoid one-sidedness, and there is nothing terrible if it creeps in to a certain extent. Criticism would be hampered if everyone were required to look at problems in an absolutely all-sided way. Nevertheless, we do ask everyone to try to approach problems in a relatively all-sided way and try to avoid one-sidedness not only in long articles but also in short articles, short essays included. Some people argue, how is it possible to undertake analysis in an essay of a few hundred or one to two thousand words? I say, why not? Didn’t Lu Hsun do it? The analytical method is dialectical. By analysis, we mean analysing the contradictions in things. And sound analysis is impossible without intimate knowledge of life and without real understanding of the relevant contradictions. Lu Hsun’s later essays are so penetrating and powerful and yet so free from one-sidedness precisely because by then he had grasped dialectics. Some of Lenin’s articles can also be called short essays they are satirical and pungent, but without one-sidedness. Almost all of Lu Hsun’s essays were directed at the enemy; some of Lenin’s essays were directed at the enemy and others at comrades. Can the Lu Hsun type of essay be used against mistakes and shortcomings within the ranks of the people? I think it can. Of course, we must make a distinction between ourselves and the enemy, and we must not adopt an antagonistic stand towards comrades and treat them as we would the enemy. One must speak warmly and sincerely with a desire to protect the cause of the people and raise their political consciousness and must not indulge in ridicule or attack.
What if one dare not write? Some people say they dare not write even when they have something to say, lest they should offend people and be criticized. I think such worries can be cast aside. Ours is a people’s democratic state, and it provides an environment conducive to writing in the service of the people. The policy of letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend offers additional guarantees for the flowering of science and the arts. If what you say is right, you need not fear criticism, and through debate you can further explain your correct views. If what you say is wrong, then criticism can help you correct your mistakes, and there is nothing bad in that. In our society, militant revolutionary criticism and counter-criticism is the healthy method used to expose and resolve contradictions, develop science and the arts and ensure success in all our work.
Seventh, whether to “open wide” or to “restrict”? This is a question of policy. “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend” is a long-term as well as a fundamental policy; it is not just a temporary policy. In the discussion, comrades expressed disapproval of “restriction”, and I think this view is the correct one. The Central Committee of the Party is of the opinion that we must “open wide”, not “restrict”.
Two alternative methods of leading our country, or in other words two alternative policies, can be adopted — to “open wide” or to “restrict”. To “open wide” means to let all people express their opinions freely, so that they dare to speak, dare to criticize and dare to debate; it means not being afraid of wrong views or anything poisonous; it means to encourage argument and criticism among people holding different views, allowing freedom both for criticism and for counter-criticism; it means not coercing people with wrong views into submission but convincing them by reasoning. To “restrict” means to forbid people to air differing opinions and express wrong ideas, and to “finish them off with a single blow” if they do so. That is the way to aggravate rather than to resolve contradictions. To “open wide”, or to “restrict”? We must choose one or the other of these two policies. We choose the former, because it is the policy which will help to consolidate our country and develop our culture.
We intend to use the policy of “opening wide” to unite with the several million intellectuals and change their present outlook. As I have said above, the overwhelming majority of the intellectuals in our country want to make progress and remould themselves, and they are quite capable of being remoulded. In this connection, the policy we adopt will play a big role. The question of the intellectuals is above all one of ideology, and it is not helpful but harmful to resort to crude and heavy-handed measures for solving ideological questions. The remoulding of the intellectuals, and especially the changing of their world outlook, is a process that requires a long period of time. Our comrades must understand that ideological remoulding involves long-term, patient and painstaking work, and they must not attempt to change people’s ideology, which has been shaped over decades of life by giving a few lectures or by holding a few meetings. Persuasion, not coercion, is the only way to convince people. Coercion will never result in convincing people. To try to make them submit by force simply won’t do. This kind of method is permissible in dealing with the enemy, but absolutely impermissible in dealing with comrades or friends. What if we don’t know how to convince others? Then we have to learn. We must learn to conquer erroneous ideas through debate and reasoning.
“Let a hundred flowers blossom” is the way to develop the arts, and “let a hundred schools of thought contend” the way to develop science. Not only is this a good method for developing science and the arts, but, applied more widely, it is a good method for all our work. It enables us to make fewer mistakes. There are many things we don’t understand and are therefore unable to tackle, but through debate and struggle we shall come to understand them and learn how to tackle them. Truth develops through debate between different views. The same method can be adopted in dealing with whatever is poisonous and anti-Marxist, because in the struggle against it Marxism will develop. This is development through the struggle of opposites, development conforming to dialectics.
Haven’t people discussed the true, the good and the beautiful all through the ages? Their opposites are the false, the evil and the ugly. The former would not exist without the latter. Truth stands in opposition to falsehood. In society as in nature, every entity invariably divides into different parts, only there are differences in content and form under different concrete conditions. There will always be wrong things and ugly phenomena. There will always be such opposites as the right and the wrong, the good and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly. The same is true of fragrant flowers and poisonous weeds. The relationship between them is one of the unity and struggle of opposites. Only by comparing can one distinguish. Only by making distinctions and waging struggle can there be development. Truth develops through its struggle against falsehood. This is how Marxism develops. Marxism develops in the struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology, and it is only through struggle that it can develop.
We are for the policy of “opening wide”; so far there has been too little of it rather than too much. We must not be afraid of “opening wide”, nor should we be afraid of criticism and poisonous weeds. Marxism is scientific truth; it fears no criticism and cannot be overthrown by criticism. The same holds for the Communist Party and the People’s Government; they fear no criticism and cannot be toppled by it. There will always be things that are wrong, and that is nothing to be afraid of. Recently, ghosts and monsters have been presented on the stage. Some comrades have become very worried by this spectacle. In my opinion, a little of this doesn’t matter much; within a few decades such ghosts and monsters will disappear from the stage altogether, and you won’t be able to see them even if you want to. We must promote what is right and oppose what is wrong, but we need not be frightened if people come in contact with erroneous things. It will solve no problem simply to issue administrative orders forbidding people to have any contact with perverse and ugly phenomena and with erroneous ideas, or forbidding them to see ghosts and monsters on the stage. Of course, I am not advocating the spread of such stuff, I am only saying “a little of this doesn’t matter much”. It is not at all strange that erroneous things should exist, nor should this give any cause for fear; indeed it helps people learn to struggle against them better. Even great storms are not to be feared. It is amid great storms that human society progresses.
In our country bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology and anti-Marxist ideologies will persist for a long time. Basically, the socialist system has been established in our country. While we have won basic victory in transforming the ownership of the means of production, we are even farther from complete victory on the political and ideological fronts. In the ideological field, the question of who will win out, the proletariat or the bourgeoisie, has not yet been really settled. We still have to wage a protracted struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology. It is wrong not to understand this and to give up ideological struggle. All erroneous ideas, all poisonous weeds, all ghosts and monsters, must be subjected to criticism; in no circumstances should they be allowed to spread freely. However, the criticism should be fully reasoned, analytical and convincing, and neither rough and bureaucratic, nor metaphysical and dogmatic.
For a long time now people have been levelling a lot of criticism at dogmatism. That is as it should be. But they often neglect to criticize revisionism. Both dogmatism and revisionism run counter to Marxism. Marxism must necessarily advance; it must develop along with practice and cannot stand still. It would become lifeless if it were stagnant and stereotyped. However, the basic principles of Marxism must never be violated, otherwise mistakes will be made. It is dogmatism to approach Marxism from a metaphysical point of view and to regard it as something rigid. It is revisionism to negate the basic principles of Marxism and to negate its universal truth. Revisionism is one form of bourgeois ideology. The revisionists deny the differences between socialism and capitalism, between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. What they advocate is in fact not the socialist line but the capitalist line. In present circumstances, revisionism is more pernicious than dogmatism. It is an important task for us to unfold criticism of revisionism on the ideological front now.
Eighth and last, it is imperative for the Party committees of the provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to tackle the question of ideology. This is a point some of the comrades present here want me to touch upon. In many places, the Party committees have not yet tackled the question of ideology, or have done very little about it. Mainly because they are busy. But tackle it they must. By “tackling it” I mean that it must be put on the agenda and studied. In the main the large-scale, turbulent class struggles of the masses characteristic of times of revolution in our country have come to an end, but there is still class struggle — chiefly on the political and ideological fronts– and it is very acute too. The question of ideology has now assumed great importance. The first secretaries of the Party committees in all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions should personally tackle this question, which can be solved correctly only when they have given it serious attention and gone into it. Meetings on propaganda work similar to our present one should be held in all these places to discuss local ideological work and all related problems. Such meetings should be attended not only by Party comrades but also by people outside the Party, and people with different opinions should be included. This will be all to the good of these meetings, and no harm can come of it, as the experience of the present conference has proved.
1. “On Production by the Army for Its Own Support and on the Importance of the Great Movements for Rectification and for Production”, Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, Vol. III.