Dead Soul of Confucius,
Fond Dreams of New Tsars
— Comment on the despicable performance of the Soviet revisionists
in worshipping Confucius and opposing the Legalist school
by the Peking University and Tsinghua University Group for Mass Criticism
[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 17, #6, Feb. 8, 1974, pp. 12-16.]
FARCES of worshipping Confucius have been staged recently in some dark corners of the world. The most clumsy one is the foul performance to worship Confucius and oppose the Legalist school staged in Moscow and directed by the Soviet revisionist new tsars. From this performance by the Soviet revisionists, one can see their fierce social-imperialist features more clearly than ever.
Opposing China Is the Aim of Worshipping
Confucius and Opposing the Legalist School
In the past few years the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has recruited a group of hack writers to whip up wave after wave of veneration for Confucius and opposition to the Legalist school, in the course of which sinister meetings were convened and a string of articles and treatises published. They nauseatingly extolled Confucius as the “most holy sage and foremost teacher of China,” an “ingenious and wise statesman,” and a “respected” “activist in state affairs,” and, among many other things, they said that “it is precisely because of Confucianism that the Chinese are what they are and the Chinese civilization has such unique features.” The Soviet revisionist new tsars have outdone all reactionaries in the history of China in their worship of Confucius and they are truly worthy of being the modern disciples of the “modern sage.”
People can only ask: Why are they so interested in Confucius who lived more than 2,000 years ago that they prostrate themselves before him? As to this kind of question, Lu Hsun long ago penetratingly pointed out: “It is said now that many people of other countries set great store by China’s old culture. Are they really doing so? They are only making use of it.”
The fundamental aim of the Soviet revisionists’ worship of Confucius and opposing the Legalist school is to oppose China. The essence of foreign imperialists’ veneration of Confucius is to oppose or “subjugate China.” Lu Hsun once said: “I believe that if foreigners are to subjugate China, ... Confucius would be even more revered.”
In exposing the imperialist attempt to divide China, Lenin pointed out that, to the bourgeoisie, China was a “choice morsel.” For many years all imperialist wolves tried to devour this “choice morsel” and the present Soviet revisionist social-imperialists even want to devour it alone. Only because this piece of meat is very tough, no one has been able to bite into it for years. But the Soviet revisionist new tsars have not given up their wild ambition to subjugate China. For years, while stationing troops on the Chinese border as a military threat, they have also adopted the anti-China tactics of looking for agents to subvert from within and put their hopes on such renegades and traitors as Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao. Veneration of Confucius by the Soviet revisionists is to meet the needs of these anti-China tactics.
Confucius was a reactionary thinker who stubbornly upheld the slave system. He lived in the latter part of the Spring and Autumn Period when the slave system was being replaced by the feudal system. Throughout his life, his words and deeds ran counter to the direction of historical developments in his time. Confucianism is the ideology of the declining slave-owning class and a reactionary ideological system which opposes progress and revolution and advocates retrogression and restoration of the old order. It has been proved by history that all reactionaries who advocate retrogression and restoration bank on the dead soul of Confucius and use it as an ideological weapon for their counter-revolutionary restoration. All reactionaries and the chieftains of opportunism in the Party have been worshippers of Confucius. Both Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao were left-over evils of Confucius. Because they wanted to restore capitalism in China and turn back the wheel of history, they inevitably sought the aid of Confucius, the supreme master of counter-revolutionary restoration, and looked for support from imperialism and social-imperialism. The criminal aim of the Soviet revisionist new tsars in worshipping Confucius is to support such faithful disciples of Confucius as Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao and fan up counter-revolutionary opinion in their vain attempt to subvert the proletarian dictatorship in China, restore capitalism and turn China into a colony of Soviet revisionist social-imperialism.
Back in the early 1960s when our country encountered temporary economic difficulties and the class struggle at home and abroad was very sharp and intense, Liu Shao-chi who talked glibly about the “greatness of the old master Confucius” impatiently came into the open. While viciously attacking the general line, the big leap forward and the people’s communes, he again dished up his sinister book on “self-cultivation” to feverishly peddle the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius. He directed a sinister meeting of worshipping Confucius in Confucius’ native place in Shantung Province, fanatically lauding the “benevolence” advocated by Confucius as “treating a person as a human being.” In co-ordination, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique also came out with a big fanfare, wildly attacking China’s general line, big leap forward and people’s communes. Flaunting the torn banner of worshipping Confucius and lauding the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius as “humanism” and “fraternity,” it openly supported Liu Shao-chi and his gang in trying to bring about “peaceful evolution” in China.
When China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was at a high tide, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique wailed dirges over Liu Shao-chi’s downfall. Their hired writers clamoured that “the Confucian school stands for the establishment of a government of benevolence” and “the overthrow of the power of a tyrant who failed to discharge his duties as a father.” They thus gave the hint to Lin Piao to act on the will of his Soviet revisionist masters, that is, to carry out subversive activities from within so as to realize the Soviet revisionists’ fond dream of subjugating China. Hearts which have a common beat are linked. At the crucial moment of victory in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the “super spy” Lin Piao extolled Confucius to the skies and at the same time conspired to stage a counter-revolutionary coup d’etat. In his notorious plan for an armed counter-revolutionary coup d’etat entitled Outline of Project “571,” he made it clear that he wanted to go over to the Soviet revisionists and seek their “nuclear umbrella” and he was sure that their counter-revolutionary “action will get the Soviet Union’s support.” The Soviet revisionists dreamt of subjugating China whereas Lin Piao tried vainly to restore capitalism; the former wanted to be an overlord whereas the latter, a puppet emperor. They prostrated themselves and burnt incense before the dead soul of Confucius, performing a “duet” of collaboration from within and without.
By invoking the dead soul of Confucius to support his faithful disciple Lin Piao, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique was only repeating the old tsars’ stock trick in their aggression against China. When Yuan Shih-kai made a big noise about worshipping Confucius after the Revolution of 1911 in order to make a comeback, a cultural spy of the old tsar at that time zealously extolled “Confucianism.” He babbled that it was “China’s unique and most fundamental doctrine,” alleging that China would “lose her culture” and “not be able to make any progress for ever” if she should abandon “Confucianism.” He even spread the tale that the destiny of China lay in the “revival of the ancient way.” All this was a terrific din calling for a monarchic restoration by Yuan Shih-kai and an attempt to provide the old tsar with a spiritual weapon to be used in his counter-revolutionary adventure of aggression against China. In the footsteps of their predecessors, the Soviet revisionist new tsars now describe Confucianism as “China’s unique cultural treasure” and attack the current struggle in China to criticize Confucius as a campaign to “negate cultural traditions.” This is indeed a case of one black line running through two dynasties.
Shameless Renegades to the Proletarian Dictatorship
In order to support Lin Piao, faithful disciple of Confucius, to restore capitalism in China, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique regarded the proletarian dictatorship in China as a thorn in its flesh. They raised the tattered banner of “humanitarianism” as their reactionary ideological weapon in attacking the proletarian dictatorship. These inheritors of “humanitarianism” are beside themselves with joy at discovering the so-called “humanitarian tradition” at the more than 2,000-year-old tomb of Confucius and treat it as a priceless treasure. They have added to Confucius’ concept of “benevolence” a lustre of “fraternity,” “love of man” and “humanitarianism,” and praised Confucius and Mencius who “regarded the people’s interests as the ultimate and highest goal in state administration.” According to their preaching, Confucius’ concept of ruling a country was that the ruler should “show concern for the people,” “must not rely on violence” and should “exercise government by means of virtue.” On the other hand, they vilify the Legalist school as an “inhuman” “ideological system of autocratic tyranny,” curse the first emperor of the Chin Dynasty Chin Shih Huang (259-210 B.C.) as “the most ruthless tyrant in world history,” and madly defame China’s proletarian dictatorship as “dictatorial,” “autocratic,” “tyrannical” and “totalitarian.” These are nothing but typical howls of renegades to the proletariat!
Marxism regards the state as the machinery for class rule and “the instrument by which one class oppresses another. It is an instrument for the oppression of antagonistic classes; it is violence and not ‘benevolence.’” In history there is the violence of the revolutionary classes and the violence of the reactionary classes. In talking about dictatorship and violence, we should always bear in mind the fundamental fact in history—the division of society into classes.
Confucius was a diehard apologist for the dictatorship of the slave-owning class. “Benevolence,” “the rule of virtue” and the other ways of ruling a country he advocated were ways of oppression by which the slave-owning aristocracy tried to suppress the slaves. According to the Tso Commentary, when the reactionary slave-owning aristocracy put down a slaves’ uprising and ruthlessly slaughtered the slaves, Confucius exclaimed “excellent,” clamouring that “strict measures should be adopted” towards slave insurrections. To suppress the newly rising forces of the landlord class, Confucius killed Shaocheng Mou, a reformer, on charges of “disruptive acts against the government.” Where in this could one find an iota of “humanitarianism” in Confucius or a trace of his “love of all men”? These hard facts have exposed Confucius’ hypocritical talk about “benevolence, righteousness and virtue” and bared the Soviet revisionists’ real intent of depicting him as a “humanitarian.” Chin Shih Huang, an outstanding statesman of the newly rising feudal landlord class, followed the trend of the development of history, rejected the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius, applied laws advocated by the Legalists, unified China through war, abrogated the vassalage left over from the slave-owning system and established a centralized dictatorship of the feudal landlord class on the basis of the prefectural system. He used this dictatorship to resolutely suppress with violence the reactionary Confucianists who were vainly trying to restore the slave system. All these were precisely revolutionary actions to defend the dictatorship of the newly rising feudal landlord class. Today in attacking the revolutionary violence and revolutionary dictatorship practised by Chin Shih Huang, the Soviet revisionists are sitting on the same bench with the dregs of the then reactionary slave-owning class.
Thus, by worshipping Confucius, opposing the Legalist school and styling itself an admirer of Confucian “rule of virtue,” the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has found a worn-out fig-leaf to try to cover up its fascist dictatorship. But the fact is that Brezhnev and his ilk, like Confucius, are downright hypocrites. In the present-day Soviet Union, there are concentration camps and “lunatic asylums” all over the country, where police and secret agents rampage, where people considered not so tractable are arrested and subjected to interrogation, or in more serious cases, imprisoned and murdered, and where the minority peoples suffer all kinds of national oppression.
In a word, the Soviet Union under the yoke of the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has already become an absolute big jail for its people of all nationalities. When this clique speaks of “humanism,” it means ruthlessly suppressing the working people while vindicating renegades, Trotskyites, counter-revolutionaries and bourgeois elements. As Chairman Mao has penetratingly pointed out, “The Soviet Union today is under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, a dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie, a dictatorship of the German fascist type, a dictatorship of the Hitler type.” The following question may be put to the gentlemen of Soviet revisionism: What essential difference is there between your “humanism” and what Confucius called “rule of virtue” which was actually a dictatorship of the slave-owning aristocracy?
As to such shop-worn expressions as “dictatorial” and “totalitarian” which the Soviet revisionist renegade clique uses to attack the proletarian dictatorship in China in its round of Confucius-worship and cursing Chin Shih Huang, the Chinese people have heard them too often and are tired of them. U.S. imperialists such as Dean Acheson and his like fumed and cursed us in the same manner as far back as 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was founded.
Indeed, all counter-revolutionaries and revisionists of old also cursed the dictatorship of the proletariat in the same vein. That counter-revolutionary butcher Thiers, for one, reviled the Paris Commune, saying it was the “tyrants of labour” and howled for liberating Paris from the rule of the vicious and cruel tyranny. That shameless renegade to the proletariat, Kautsky, also venomously attacked the Soviet state under the proletarian dictatorship led by Lenin, saying that it was a dictatorial system and despotic. And now these gentlemen of Soviet revisionism can only hum the tunes of their counter-revolutionary and revisionist progenitors without being able to utter anything new. Their hue and cry only shows to what shameful extent they have degenerated in their betrayal of the theory of proletarian dictatorship.
Diehard Champions of Old Traditions
China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is a great political revolution carried out by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes. It is also a great revolution in the ideological sphere. It has smashed the two bourgeois headquarters of Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao and further consolidated and strengthened the proletarian dictatorship, and this is a heavy blow to Soviet revisionism for it has once again failed to make its dream of subjugating China come true. This being so, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has been in a fit of hysterical outbursts against China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, ten times more frenzied and a hundred times greater in its hatred than before. Its opposition to the Legalist school and cursing of Chin Shih Huang are only one of their especially shrill cries.
The pen-men in the pay of Soviet revisionism falsely accuse the Legalists of “having destroyed education and culture on all accounts” and curse Chin Shih Huang for being so “vicious” as to have “burnt books and buried Confucian scholars alive”; from this they proceed to venomously attack China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, alleging that this revolution “has broken away from the progressive tradition” and “has practically destroyed all the old books as in the time of Chin Shih Huang”; in a word, it has “destroyed culture.”
Marxism holds that a given culture is the product of a given politico-economic system and has a reaction on the politics and economy of a given society. Historically speaking, the assumption of power by a newly rising class invariably goes hand in hand with a fierce class struggle in the realm of ideology, with “all the old ideas handed down by tradition” being “flung into the lumber-room as irrational.” On the other hand, all decadent and reactionary classes invariably preach the “worship of things ancient” and “restoration of the old order” and use the old traditions to resist the revolutionary tide and safeguard their rotten cause. Following the unification of China by Chin Shih Huang, the reactionary aristocrats and Confucian scholars came into the open to use things ancient to denounce the contemporary and attack the new system of centralized political power.
With a view to consolidating the newly established dictatorship of the landlord class and striking at restorationist forces, Chin Shih Huang decreed the “burning of books and burying of Confucian scholars alive.” This was a revolutionary move to suppress the followers of Confucius and Mencius advocating the restoration of the old order, a revolution aimed at crushing the slave-owners’ restorationist forces in the realm of the superstructure, and an exercise of dictatorship over the reactionary class in the ideological and cultural fields.
Ever since the division of human society into opposing classes, there has never been an all-inclusive culture; there is only culture of a definite class, that of the exploiting classes and that of the labouring people, the progressive culture representing a newly emerging class and the reactionary and decadent culture reflecting the ideas of a class in decline. At all times there is a struggle between the two types of culture. “There is no construction without destruction, no flowing without damming and no motion without rest.” To oppose one culture and defend another—this has been done by all classes in history, with only a difference in nature.
In this era of ours, there is either the culture of the proletariat, or that of feudalism, capitalism and revisionism. It was solemnly proclaimed long ago in the Manifesto of the Communist Party that the communist revolution in “its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas”—that is, to wipe out feudal, capitalist and revisionist culture and establish and develop a brand-new culture of the proletariat in the course of revolution. With regard to the cultural heritage handed down by history, we must also take an analytical Marxist attitude: “It is imperative to separate the fine old culture of the people which had a more or less democratic and revolutionary character from all the decadence of the old feudal ruling class” and one should never swallow anything and everything.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China has repudiated the fallacies of feudalism, capitalism and revisionism in the ideological field, firmly eliminated the old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits while extensively fostering new ideas, new culture, new customs and new habits, with the result that great, earth-shaking changes have taken place and are still taking place in the entire look of the country both ideologically and culturally. The leadership in the realm of the superstructure is now firmly in the hands of the proletariat, and the workers, peasants and soldiers have truly become the masters of all sciences and culture. All spiritual wealth in human history is created by workers, peasants and other labouring people, but for several thousand years this was monopolized by a few spiritual aristocrats of the exploiting classes. With the great victory of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, this reversal of history has been reversed back. This is a very great cause never attempted by our forbears and has won universal acclaim from revolutionary people all over the world. The Soviet revisionist renegade clique, however, has taken the reactionary stand of all exploiting classes and made desperate and plaintive cries, cries which betray the clique as a gang of diehard champions of the old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits of the exploiting classes.
What after all is the “culture” this clique is preserving and upholding? Today, in the Soviet Union under the yoke of the Soviet revisionist renegade clique, there is a hotch-potch of everything capricious in the ideological realm, ranging from the “pan-Slavism” of the old tsars to the social-imperialism of the new tsars, from the rotten doctrine of Confucius and Mencius to “Western culture” now so much in vogue, from religious fanaticism to the inculcation of sex and robbery. The only thing banned in the Soviet Union today is genuine Marxism-Leninism, the revolutionary ideology of the proletariat.
The Soviet revisionist renegade clique has not only revived in an all-round way reactionary imperialist ideology and culture at home but, to subjugate China, it has also tried to sell the lot to China and make it enter into a reactionary alliance with China’s old culture. Chairman Mao says: “Imperialist culture and semi-feudal culture are devoted brothers and have formed a reactionary cultural alliance against China’s new culture.” With the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution having won great victories, the Soviet revisionists and Lin Piao sang in chorus, viciously attacking the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, cursing new socialist things born of the revolution and stubbornly trying to revive already perished old ideas and old culture lest they should become extinct altogether. Their criminal aim is to protect these reactionary things in every possible way, revive feudalism, capitalism and revisionism totally, and use the old and reactionary ideology as a weapon in their attack on the proletariat, so as to open a breach in the cultural and ideological field, and thence restore capitalism in China and turn it into a colony of the Soviet revisionist new tsars. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the deepening mass struggle to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius are precisely an ideological revolution to thoroughly repudiate feudalist, capitalist and revisionist ideas. And the deeper the revolution, the greater its success, the less the hope of Soviet revisionism for a capitalist restoration in China. This explains why the new tsars have expressed such despair in the face of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the struggle to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius in China.
The Soviet revisionist renegade clique’s rabid attacks on China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution fully betray the new tsars’ morbid fear of revolution. They are afraid that its tremendous impact will arouse the proletarian revolutionaries and the revolutionary masses in their country to rise in revolt against them and thus endanger their tottering rule. But this impact of the proletarian revolution cannot be kept out of the door. The broad masses of the people in the Soviet Union who have a glorious revolutionary tradition will surely hold aloft the fighting banner of Marxism-Leninism, persevere in a protracted struggle, break down one obstacle after another, overthrow the reactionary rule of the Soviet revisionist new tsars, re-establish the proletarian dictatorship and bring the Soviet Union back on the road of socialism.
(An abridged translation of an article
originally published in “Renmin Ribao”)
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