On the Ideological Front

Workers, Peasants and Soldiers
Study Marxist Philosophy

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 9, #6, Feb. 4, 1966, pp. 23-24.]

Considerable space in newspapers and magazines today is being devoted to the philosophical writings of workers, peasants and soldiers. In vivid language that only people closely linked with practice can use, these writers impress the reader with their clear thinking, scientific analysis and direct approach. From the way this trend is developing it can be said that philosophy in China is entering a new historic stage.

      THE movement among the workers, peasants and soldiers for the study of Chairman Mao’s works is proceeding vigorously across the land. Coming in the midst of China’s socialist revolution and socialist construction, this is an important event in the political and ideological life of the nation. It already has made substantial contributions in all fields of work, and as the movement surges ahead, its far-reaching significance will be more readily seen.

Mastering the Laws Governing
Every Sphere of Work

      The working masses are not interested in study “for the sake of study.” They study the works of Mao Tse-tung for the explicit purpose of learning from Chairman Mao—his Marxist-Leninist stand, viewpoint and method—to acquire the outlook of working for the revolution and to learn to do a better job in their revolutionary work. In China, Mao Tse-tung’s thinking is compared to a telescope and a microscope which help to see things that are far off and things that are normally unobservable. People seek out Chairman Mao’s works for answers to specific questions. They use the basic theories they learn from these writings to analyse and solve these problems. Thus, they find their jobs—such as operating a machine, ploughing or waiting on customers behind a sales-counter—full of meaning and they do them enthusiastically and creatively.

      Among workers, peasants and soldiers there is great zeal to apply consciously what they learn from On Practice, On Contradiction and other philosophical writings by Chairman Mao in summing up their experience in practice, analysing the contradictions in objective reality, and in discussing the laws governing their own sphere of work so that they can put their everyday work on the basis of making full use of objective laws. This is popularly called “riding on the back of the objective laws,” and is capable of producing tremendous strength.

A Great Motivating Force

      Marx has said: “Theory too becomes a material force as soon as it grips the masses.” This truth has been borne out most vividly by what is taking place in China today. With Mao Tse-tung’s thinking as their guide, many workers, peasants and soldiers go about their work with a scientific attitude backed up by great enthusiasm. This helps bring about an increase in the output of grain or industrial goods, successes in technical innovations and good results in political work. It enables workers to play their role as the leading class in the country better, and it enables the former poor and lower-middle peasants to assume leadership in their own villages.

      It can be predicted that with the spreading and deepening of this movement, it will give rise to more and greater strength and material wealth. This is a great motivating force for transforming China from poverty to abundance, from technically backward to technically advanced. It is a powerful impetus for propelling the socialist revolution and construction.

Fostering a New Communist Generation

      The present study movement also serves as a big school in which a new communist generation is being trained.

      While using Mao Tse-tung’s thinking to transform the objective world, the working masses find that a fundamental change has taken place in their own minds, in their subjective world.

      In the course of exploring the possibilities for introducing technical innovations in the light of Mao Tse-tung’s thinking, for instance, many workers and peasants have learnt to use materialist dialectics to analyse questions and have acquired the working style of following the mass line. This also provides a good opportunity for tempering the revolutionary will for wholehearted service to the people and strengthening tenacity in surmounting difficulties.

      Many cadres at the grass-roots level—leaders of factory work groups and commune production teams, Party branch secretaries, and others—admit that by creatively applying Mao Tse-tung’s thinking they have learnt to do a satisfactory job of ideological and organizational work, to view people and things on the basis of the concept of the unity of opposites which is popularly called “the concept of dividing one into two,” and to discover the laws in their own field of work so that they are able to transform the backward into the advanced and the advanced into the even more advanced.

      In short, with Mao Tse-tung’s thinking in command, all kinds of daily work are treated as a science whose laws can be discovered and mastered. This in turn helps to raise the ideological level of people in all kinds of work.

      In studying Chairman Mao’s works, workers, peasants and soldiers have further enhanced their communist consciousness, knowing that all work is for the revolution and that at their places of duty, no matter what they are, they are doing their share for China’s socialist revolution and construction and for the proletarian revolution throughout the world. This is a process in which the working masses are gradually acquiring a communist world outlook, to become a new generation of communist fighters. This is more important than anything, because the fostering of a new communist generation is essential to guarding against revisionism and to carrying the revolution through to the end.

They Also Write Philosophical Articles

      In the course of the study movement, thousands and thousands of workers, peasants and soldiers have taken up their pens and written philosophical articles. Applying the Marxist theory of knowledge and the methodology of Marxism learnt through their study of Chairman Mao’s works, they deal with their problems in production and work and write in their own everyday language. Many of their writings are down-to-earth, lively and highly original, and stand out in sharp contrast to philosophical theses written by intellectuals divorced from practice. Principles that seem abstruse in many books on philosophy become easy to understand in these writings.

      Thus, under the impact of the study movement, philosophy, which was long considered a subject for the classroom, academic circles and research institutes only, is taking root in factories, mines, villages, shops and army units in every corner of the country. Workers, peasants and soldiers have set foot in the domain of philosophy which for thousands of years was the monopoly of intellectuals. Their study and application of Marxist philosophy and their writings on it have proved that philosophy is no mystery and clearly show that as the philosophy of the proletariat, Marxist philosophy can and should be mastered by the masses of workers and peasants.

      The movement among the workers, peasants and soldiers for the study of Chairman Mao’s works is also proving to be a rich source of development of Marxist philosophy. Their writing in this respect is a spur to philosophical research. An additional important factor is that people specializing in philosophy are put on their mettle and challenged to improve their work. Describing this as “giving a good shove” to our workers in philosophy, a recent editorial in the magazine Zhexue Yanjiu (Philosophical Research) called on all such workers to learn modestly from the workers, peasants and soldiers, from their attitude and method in the study of the philosophical writings of Chairman Mao and from their experience in applying his philosophical thinking. It urged them to break away from “force of habit,” thoroughly emancipate themselves from the bookish atmosphere of libraries and studies, and make an earnest effort to integrate their research work more closely with reality.

“Renmin Ribao’s” Call to Workers in Philosophy

      In a smilar vein, Renmin Ribao pointed out in a recent editorial: “The practice of class struggle and the struggle for production by the masses of the people is the greatest and richest source of philosophical ideas, indeed the only source. Anyone who cuts himself off from it and secludes himself in the library will never master Marxism however many books he reads. The only possible outcome will be dogmatism and revisionism.” By recalling Chairman Mao’s injunction about the need to be a student if one is to be a teacher, the editorial said that this is “the only way to solve the contradiction confronting workers in philosophy, the problem of theory divorced from practice.” It also said, “In order that philosophy can better serve workers, peasants and soldiers, workers in philosophy must go into the villages, factories, shops and army units, take part in the class struggle and the struggle for production and earnestly learn from the masses.”

      Seeing the way ahead, our workers in philosophy are ready to answer the call of the times. They are determined to go to factories, farms and army units and stay there for a number of years, study living philosophy in the course of actual struggle, learn to write in the language of the labouring masses and produce philosophical articles that will be easily understood by the working people. They know that only by doing so will they be able to steel themselves into genuine Marxist philosophical workers. They are confident that by travelling on the right road they will be able to turn philosophy into a sharper ideological weapon in the hands of the people and make their contributions to the enrichment and development of Marxist philosophy.

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