[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #3, Jan. 18, 1974, pp. 4-7.]
THE question of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the basic content of the proletarian revolution. Throughout the entire historical period of socialism, the upholding and consolidation of the proletarian dictatorship is an indispensable condition for carrying through the socialist revolution, for the prevention of capitalist restoration and for the transition to communism.
On the eve of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman Mao published On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, a programmatic work on the theory and policies of proletarian dictatorship. (See Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, Vol. IV, p. 411.) In line with Marxist-Leninist theory on the state, this work clearly points out that, after the victory of the Chinese people’s revolution, the only road to socialism and communism is setting up the people’s democratic dictatorship, i.e., the establishment of the state system of the proletarian dictatorship. Since the founding of New China, the historical progress of the socialist revolution and socialist construction in our country, especially the struggle to smash the two anti-Party cliques headed by Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, has fully testified to the correctness of the theory and policies Chairman Mao expounded in this work.
China’s state system of the proletarian dictatorship is far superior to any capitalist state system. It is on the basis of this system that the Chinese people have abolished private ownership of the means of production and replaced it with public ownership of the means of production, thus opening up broad vistas for the development of the social productive forces. With the carrying out of the extensive and deep-going socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts, and especially after going through the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the proletariat’s position in the realm of the superstructure has been strengthened, the great unity of the people of all nationalities in the country has been consolidated daily, our country’s international prestige has been rising steadily and we have friends all over the world. In short, it is by relying on the proletarian dictatorship that our people have smashed the repeated attacks of the reactionary classes and reactionaries at home, prevented aggression and subversion by imperialism and social-imperialism, and won great victory in socialist revolution and socialist construction. Once poor and backward, China has become a socialist country with initial prosperity. A brighter future is ahead of us.
In his work, Chairman Mao has summed up the historical experience gained by the Chinese people’s revolution in more than a hundred years, and especially the 28 years’ historical experience of the new-democratic revolution carried out by the Chinese people under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Thoroughly refuting the illusion of setting up a bourgeois republic in China, Chairman Mao has explicitly pointed out: “To sum up our experience and concentrate it into one point, it is: the people’s democratic dictatorship under the leadership of the working class (through the Communist Party) and based upon the alliance of workers and peasants. This dictatorship must unite as one with the international revolutionary forces. This is our formula, our principal experience, our main programme.” Chairman Mao’s celebrated formula is a brilliant embodiment of the integration of Marxism-Leninism with the practice of the Chinese revolution. It points out to the proletariat how to defeat the bourgeoisie after the seizure of political power and advance on the bright road of socialism and communism.
According to the world outlook of the proletariat, the historical mission of the proletariat is the overthrow of bourgeois rule, abolition of classes and class differences, and the final realization of communism when mankind will enter the realm of Great Harmony. To fulfil this historical mission, the proletariat must work hard to create conditions, and “the leadership of the Communist Party and the state power of the people’s dictatorship are such conditions.” This is a Marxist-Leninist truth. Since the state is the product of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms, the state power of the proletarian dictatorship cannot and should not be abolished before the extinction of classes, but should be greatly strengthened. In refuting the absurdities that we should abolish the state apparatus right now, Chairman Mao pointed out: “Yes, we do, but not right now; we cannot do it yet. Why? Because imperialism still exists, because domestic reaction still exists,, because classes still exist in our country. Our present task is to strengthen the people’s state apparatus—mainly the people’s army, the people’s police and the people’s courts—in order to consolidate national defence and protect the people’s interests. Given this condition, China can develop steadily, under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party, from an agricultural into an industrial country and from a new-democratic into a socialist and communist society, can abolish classes and realize the Great Harmony.” This directive has penetratingly expounded the importance and necessity to strengthen the proletarian dictatorship.
After the socialist revolution in the ownership of the means of production was basically completed in China, Chairman Mao summed up the experience of the struggles between the two classes, two roads and two lines at home, took into consideration the positive and negative experience of the international communist movement and published On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People. This work has further enriched and developed the theory of the proletarian dictatorship. And for the first time in Marxist theory and practice it explicitly points out that after the basic completion of the socialist transformation of ownership of the means of production, there are still classes, class contradictions and class struggle and the proletariat must continue the revolution not only on the economic front but carry the socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts through to the end. Chairman Mao has penetratingly analysed the basic contradictions in socialist society and made known the objective law of class struggle in the period of socialism thus putting forth in a more comprehensive way the Party’s basic line in the entire historical period of socialism. This basic line has pointed out the orientation for upholding and consolidating the proletarian dictatorship. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution initiated and led by Chairman Mao is a great political revolution waged by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes under the proletarian dictatorship. This great revolution has smashed the two bourgeois headquarters headed by Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao, the two ringleaders who had long hidden themselves in the Party, shattered their schemes to turn the proletarian dictatorship into a bourgeois dictatorship, further expanded the proletariat’s position in all realms of the superstructure and greatly strengthened and consolidated the proletarian dictatorship. As Chairman Mao has pointed out: “The current Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is absolutely necessary and most timely for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, preventing capitalist restoration and building socialism.”
The great victories of the Cultural Revolution and of the movement to criticise Lin Piao and rectify the style of work by no means signify the end of the struggles between the two classes, two roads and two lines. The struggles will continue to be protracted, complicated and acute throughout the entire historical period of socialism. The bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes will never give up their futile attempts and efforts for a restoration, nor will imperialism and social-imperialism give up aggression and subversion. Under these circumstances, we must continue to uphold and strengthen the proletarian dictatorship, and words and deeds that tend to relax or weaken the proletarian dictatorship are erroneous.
The function of the proletarian dictatorship is, firstly, to suppress the domestic reactionary classes and reactionaries as well as elements opposing socialist transformation and socialist construction. Secondly, its function is to protect our country from aggression and subversion by external enemies. Like food and clothing, the proletarian dictatorship is something a victorious people cannot do without even for a moment. Without it, the proletariat will lose the political power it has seized, the reactionaries will stage a come-back and disaster will befall the people.
“Revolutionary dictatorship and counter-revolutionary dictatorship are by nature opposites, but the former was learned from the latter. Such learning is very important.” The proletariat has learnt this at great cost. The Paris Commune was the first great attempt to establish the proletarian dictatorship. The chief mistake that led to its failure was “benevolence” to the class enemy and the fact that the commune failed to display the full power of the proletarian dictatorship. In consequence, the reactionary bourgeoisie won a respite to regroup its forces and launch a counter-attack, strangling the revolutionary political power and wantonly massacring the revolutionary people. This was a lesson learnt in blood. It educated the proletariat and revolutionary people all over the world that the proletariat must use revolutionary violence to smash the old state machinery, establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and give full play to its authority so as to relentlessly suppress resistance by the class enemies. The state machinery, whatever its form, is a tool of the ruling class to suppress the ruled class. For the ruled, it is violence, and not “benevolence.” Chairman Mao has said: “We definitely do not apply a policy of benevolence to the reactionaries and towards the reactionary activities of the reactionary classes. Our policy of benevolence is applied only within the ranks of the people, not beyond them to the reactionaries or to the reactionary activities of reactionary classes.” The “benevolence” vaunted by the reactionary ruling class is entirely deceitful. The reason why the reactionaries must cover up the class nature of their political power is that the exploiters and the counter-revolutionaries are at all times and in all places in the minority. Their dictatorship is irrational. In reality, since the emergence of classes with different interests in human society and the coming into being of state political power, there has been no such thing as supra-class “benevolence.”
The proletariat’s revolutionary dictatorship over the enemy is bound to lead to frantic hatred by the class enemies at home and abroad. They attack the proletarian dictatorship as “dictatorial,” “despotic” and “totalitarian.” The renegade and traitor Lin Piao also wildly attacked it as “dictatorial” and “autocratic.” Indeed, this is absolutely true so far as the power of the people’s government to suppress the reactionaries is concerned. The more wildly the reactionaries attack us, the more it proves that we have done the right thing and the more we should persist in our dictatorhsip over them.
Dictatorship by any class finds violence applied in its rule. We should analyse violence: there is revolutionary violence and counter-revolutionary violence. Instead of opposing the revolutionary violence which conforms to the direction of historical development, Marxists acclaim it. Acting in co-ordination with Lin Piao, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique also cursed our proletarian dictatorship in a vain attempt to restore the dictatorship of the big landlords and the big bourgeoisie in China. Chairman Mao has said: “The foreign reactionaries who accuse us of practising ‘dictatorship’ or ‘totalitarianism’ are the very persons who practise it. They practise the dictatorship or totalitarianism of one class, the bourgeoisie, over the proletariat and the rest of the people.” The Soviet revisionist renegade clique is just a bunch of such reactionaries. After usurping the Party and state power in the Soviet Union, this clique abolished the proletarian dictatorship and practised the dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie, a German fascist-type dictatorship, a Hitler-type dictatorship. Its “benevolence” means suppression of the revolution of the proletariat and other working people in the Soviet Union and setting up concentration camps and “asylums” all over the country. From the present reality of the Soviet Union, we can see more clearly the ultra-Rightist nature of Lin Piao’s counter-revolutionary revisionist line, and thereby heighten our consciousness to consolidate the proletarian dictatorship.
The proletarian dictatorship is state power led by the proletariat. Who is to exercise this dictatorship? Naturally the proletariat and the people under its leadership. Chairman Mao has said: “The people’s democratic dictatorship is based on the alliance of the working class, the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie, and mainly on the alliance of the workers and the peasants, because these two classes comprise 80 to 90 per cent of China’s population. These two classes are the main force in overthrowing imperialism and the Kuomintang reactionaries. The transition from New Democracy to socialism also depends mainly upon their alliance.” Only by continuously strengthening and consolidating the worker-peasant alliance can the proletariat carry out effective proletarian dictatorship. At the same time, it must unite all other classes and strata which are in favour of, support and take part in socialist revolution and socialist construction, and unite all forces that can be united with. Only by rallying the vast majority of people round it and fully relying on them to exercise the power of dictatorship, can the proletariat isolate and attack a handful of class enemies to the maximum extent and consolidate the proletarian dictatorship.
Dictatorship is enforced against the enemy. Only democracy, and not dictatorship, is practised within the ranks of the people. The proletarian dictatorship is able to defeat powerful enemies at home and abroad and shoulder the great historical mission of building socialism and realizing communism because it provides the masses of the people with democracy—not found in any capitalist country—in the broadest sense and brings into full play the creativeness and initiative of hundreds of millions of people. The formula “unity, criticism, unity” often used by the masses of the people under the Party’s leadership to disclose and solve contradictions is the concrete expression of this democracy in the broadest sense. In his work On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People, Chairman Mao has pointed out: This formula means “starting from the desire for unity, resolving contradictions through criticism or struggle and arriving at a new unity on a new basis. In our experience this is the correct method of resolving contradictions among the people.” He has also said: “Our task now is to continue to extend and make still better use of this method throughout the ranks of the people; we want all our factories, co-operatives, business establishments, schools, government offices and public organizations, in a word, all our six hundred million people, to use it in resolving contradictions among ourselves.” Experience gained in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has forcefully proved that the method pointed out by Chairman Mao is a correct one in handling contradictions among the people correctly and in strengthening revolutionary unity among the people. Great unity in the broadest sense among the people can be realized by correctly distinguishing and handling the two different types of contradictions and solving the contradictions among the people by democratic methods and not by coercion. Unite for one purpose, that is, the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Proletarian democracy and proletarian centralism are two aspects which supplement each other. Chairman Mao has said: “Within the ranks of the people, we cannot do without freedom nor can we do without discipline; we cannot do without democracy, nor can we do without centralism. This unity of democracy and centralism, of freedom and discipline, constitutes our democratic centralism. Under this system, the people enjoy extensive democracy and freedom, but at the same time they have to keep within the bounds of socialist discipline.” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) Without centralism on the basis of democracy, the proletariat cannot practise effective leadership, nor can the cause of the proletarian dictatorship be pushed forward. All revolutionary comrades and people safeguard the unity of the state and the solidatity of the people as well as socialist discipline as they cherish the apple of their eye.
In On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, Chairman Mao has said: “Only when the people have such a state [people’s state] can they educate and remould themselves by democratic methods on a country-wide scale, with everyone taking part, and shake off the influence of domestic aad foreign reactionaries.” Under the leadership of their own state power, the people constantly educate themselves, heighten their consciousness, rid themselves of outdated habits and ideas and guard against being led astray by the reactionaries. This is essential for the consolidation and strengthening of the proletarian dictatorship, and for carrying the socialist revolution to the end. We should make full use of the superior conditions provided by the proletarian state system and pay attention to doing a good job of educating the people in this respect. The present deep-going movement to criticize Lin Piao and rectify the style of work is an acute two-liue struggle in which the Lin Piao anti-Party clique is thoroughly exposed and criticized, and this movement is also an education for the people in the ideological and political line that is carried out on a country-wide scale with everyone taking part. Through this education, the broad masses and cadres have greatly heightened their consciousness of class struggle and the struggle between the two lines, thereby promoting the vigorous development of our socialist construction in all fields.
(Abridged translation of an article in “Hongqi,”
No. 12, 1973. Subheads are ours. [Peking Review’s])
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