[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #7, Feb. 14, 1975, pp. 6-10.]
PRACTICAL experience in the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius shows the great necessity to conscientiously study and delve into the Marxist theory concerning the dictatorship of the proletariat in conjunction with past and present class struggles, so as to further enhance people’s understanding of the need to strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat and heighten their consciousness of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the quintessence of Marxism. Ever since the mid-19th century when Marxism began to take shape, the slogan calling for the replacement of the bourgeois dictatorship by the proletarian dictatorship has been put forward. Lenin, who had summed up the experience of the proletarian revolution in Russia, later enriched and developed the Marxist theory of the state and again and again expounded the importance and necessity of strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. In China, by applying the principle of integrating the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution, Chairman Mao has upheld and developed the Marxist-Leninist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, put forward the theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and formulated for us a basic line for the entire historical period of socialism, thereby guiding the socialist revolution in China to advance from victory to victory.
More than a century has elapsed since Marx and Engels put forth the brilliant concept of realizing the dictatorship of the proletariat. During this period of time, the proletariat and other labouring masses the world over have advanced wave upon wave and fought courageously and tenaciously to overthrow the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, for which so many revolutionary martyrs have shed their blood and laid clown their lives. The degeneration of the world’s first socialist country into a social-imperialist one as a result of revisionist rule has taught all revolutionary people a profound lesson, enabling them to better understand the importance of opposing and preventing revisionism after the seizure of political power by the proletariat. The theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought on the dictatorship of the proletariat is precisely a scientific summing up of the experience gained from proletarian revolutionary struggles over the last century. Embracing extremely rich contents, it profoundly elucidates the law governing the development of the proletarian revolution, the sharp and complex nature of class struggle in the historical period of transition from capitalism to communism, the necessity for the dictatorship of the proletariat, the nature and tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the difference between the dictatorship of the proletariat and that of the bourgeoisie, the question of correctly handling the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and those among the people under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the question of maintaining and giving play to the role of the vanguard of the proletariat, as well as the elimination of the three major differences (namely, those between workers and peasants, between city and countryside and between manual and mental labour), the withering away of state and other questions. All this points out for us the orientation, course and principles and policies for strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat and preventing capitalist restoration. It is of paramount importance in guiding our cause of socialist revolution and construction today.
In the case of China, ours is now a socialist society of the dictatorship of the proletariat. During this historical period, whether to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat, keep to the socialist road, eliminate the bourgeoisie and, through prolonged struggle and transformation, gradually create conditions in which capitalism can neither survive nor emerge again, or to subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat, restore capitalism, prepare the soil for breeding capitalism and let the landlord and capitalist classes regain power and exploit and oppress the labouring people—this is a fundamental problem concerning the historical destiny of our Party and state and that of the proletariat and other labouring masses. Under the guidance of Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line, the Chinese people have in the past two decades and more carried on a series of revolutions in the political, economic and ideological and cultural spheres, particularly the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the current movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, all for the purpose of continually solving this problem. To continue doing a good job of our revolution and construction and provide a reliable guarantee for our struggle of combating and preventing revisionism, all Communist Party members, cadres, workers, peasants, fighters of the People’s Liberation Army and intellectuals should attach great importance to this problem and conscientiously study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to consolidate this dictatorship. Only thus can we differentiate Marxism from revisionism and better implement the Party’s basic line for the entire historical period of socialism.
Chairman Mao has said: “Socialist society covers a considerably long historical period. In the historical period of socialism, there are still classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, and there is the danger of capitalist restoration. We must recognize the protracted and complex nature of this struggle. We must heighten our vigilance. We must conduct socialist education. We must correctly understand and handle class contradictions and class struggle, distinguish the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy from those among the people and handle them correctly. Otherwise a socialist country like ours will turn into its opposite and degenerate, and a capitalist restoration will take place. From now on we must remind ourselves of this every year, every month and every day so that we can retain a rather sober understanding of this problem and have a Marxist-Leninist line.” This basic line formulated by Chairman Mao is based on the Marxist-Leninist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat and revolutionary practice in China. If we do not earnestly study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, not comprehend the law of class struggle in the socialist period, not understand the contradiction between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base, not know the nature and tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat and not see the current class struggle and two-line struggle, then it is impossible for us to really understand and implement the Party’s basic line for the entire historical period of socialism and the series of principles and policies laid down by the Party. If ideologically we are muddle-headed about the theory and practice of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, our actions cannot produce effective results and may even go wrong. Without making clear the problem of the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, we may turn revisionist. Our practical experience in revolution ever the past two decades has proved this point, and our practical experience in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius has also proved it.
The Marxist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat is based on the scientific analysis of the fact that classes, class contradictions and class struggle still exist in socialist society. Lenin emphatically pointed out: The period of transition from capitalism to communism “inevitably is a period of an unprecedentedly violent class struggle in unprecedentedly acute forms.” (The State and Revolution.) This is because “the class of exploiters, the landowners and capitalists, has not disappeared and cannot disappear all at once under the dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.) What with an international base and extensive social connections, they are bound to put up a desperate resistance and try to turn their hope of restoration into attempts at restoration. This is because “small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale.” (“Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder.) This is because commodity production “is alive, operating, developing and giving rise to a bourgeoisle” (Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.—B.) and the phenomenon of degeneration as a result of corruption by bourgeois ideas can appear among Soviet government employees, workers and Party members. This is because there is the “bourgeois right in regard to the distribution of articles of consumption.” (The State and Revolution.) In addition, this is also because the minds of a section of people are shackled, by various decadent bourgeois ideas, traditions and habits which can be done away with only after a long period of time. That was why Lenin again and again stressed: “The dictatorship of the proletariat is not the end of class struggle but its continuation in new forms.” (Foreword to the Published Speech, “Deception of the People With Slogans of Freedom and Equality.”)
Old and new revisionists, however, do not recognize that there is class struggle in the period of transition from capitalism to communism. This was true with Bernstein and Kautsky, and is also the case with the Soviet revisionist renegade clique, as well as Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao. They have all worked overtime to trumpet the theory of “the dying out of class struggle” for the sole purpose of opposing and subverting the dictatatorship of the proletariat and safeguarding and restoring capitalism.
In accordance with the basic law of the unity of opposites, Chairman Mao has pointed out that after the basic completion of the transformation of the ownership of the means of production in our socialist state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, there is still harmony as well as contradiction between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base. “There are still remnants of the overthrown landlord and comprador classes, there is still a bourgeoisie, and the remoulding of the petty bourgeoisie has only just started. The class struggle is by no means over.” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) On the economic front, the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between the socialist road and the capitalist road has not ended just because of the basic change of ownership. The fact is: In China’s rural areas, agricultural co-operation has been brought about, the peasants have embarked on the broad road of socialism and the system of people’s communes has displayed tremendous vitality, but the unremoulded landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements and Rightists have not stopped their disruptive activities, remnants of small production are still there, a section of the peasants still retain in varying degrees the habits of small producers, the rural spontaneous forces of capitalism often come to the surface and the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road remains very intense. It will take a comparatively long historical period to complete the socialist transformation of those parts of ownership where such transformation has yet to be completed. For the industrial and mining enterprises, there is the similar question of which line to implement. Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line guides us in keeping to the socialist orientation, but if the revisionist line should become predominant in a unit, this unit would change its nature, in which case the ownership would be socialist only in form but capitalist in reality. In socialist society there are still the three major differences as well as the bourgeois right which is a reflection of these differences. It calls for a long struggle to use the dictatorship of the proletariat to restrict and narrow these differences. Such a state of affairs tells us that in doing economic work we must pay great attention to the struggle between the two classes, the two roads and the two lines and to solving problems in regard to the relations of production. We should conscientiously study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, enhance our understanding of the principle of “grasping revolution, promoting production” and increase our consciousness in implementing the Party’s basic line. Only by seriously studying this theory can we deepen our criticism of such sinister wares as fixing farm output quotas for individual households with each on its own, material incentives and economism advocated by Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao; only thus can we deepen our criticism of capitalist tendencies, such erroneous ideas and styles of work as servility to things foreign, the doctrine of trailing behind at a snail’s pace and extravagance and waste; so as to promote the development of socialist revolution on the economic front and ensure that the task of consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat is fulfilled in factories and villages right down to the grass-roots level.
The Marxist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat gives prominence to the importance of the revolution in the superstructure, including all spheres of culture. After the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, its ideology will continue to exist for a long time in the political, economic and ideological and cultural spheres and become a major means employed by the bourgeoisie in launching attacks against the proletariat and in creating public opinion for restoring capitalism. Apart from engendering capitalism among small producers, the existence of classes and class struggle and of the bourgeois right and the corruption by bourgeois ideology may also give rise to new bourgeois elements and degenerates among a section of Party members, workers, as well as state cadres and intellectuals. Therefore, “the proletariat must exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the realm of the superstructure, including the various spheres of culture.” This requires us to study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat conscientiously, use this theory to analyse, study and solve the problem of class struggle in the various spheres of the superstructure, gradually eradicate the influence of the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and occupy all positions in the superstructure with Marxism. Only when we really understand the significance and purpose of the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie can we consciously transform all those parts of the superstructure that do not fit in with the socialist economic base, resolutely support socialist new things in all spheres and be promoters of the proletarian revolution.
The movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius is a political and ideological struggle in the realm of the superstructure through which Marxism defeats revisionism and the proletariat triumphs over the bourgeoisie. Conscientiously studying the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat gives powerful impetus to broadening, deepening and persevering in this movement. What Lin Piao did in peddling the doctrines of Confucius, and Mencius and spreading so many revisionist fallacies boiled down to one point: opposition to the dictatorship of the proletariat. A conscientious study of the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat will enable us to better grasp the reactionary essence of Lin Piao’s attempts at restoration and retrogression and theoretically criticize his revisionist line and the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius in a penetrating and thoroughgoing way. Such a study also serves as a guide for us to really make the past serve the present in studying the history of the struggle between the Confucian and the Legalist schools and of class struggle as a whole, so that we can rather profoundly sum up the useful experience and lessons from the past for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat. The emergence of Lin Piao, like that of all revisionists, was by no means a fortuitous phenomenon of an individual. The Lin Piao anti-Party clique represented a class and there were class roots and a social basis for its coming into being. Conscientiously studying the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat helps us in the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius to get a deep understanding of the root cause of revisionism, so that we can better carry on the struggle of opposing and preventing revisionism and consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat on all fronts.
All Party members, cadres, workers, peasants, P.L.A. fighters and intellectuals should study, comprehend and have a clear understanding of the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between the socialist and capitalist roads is bound to find expression in people’s minds. Every Communist Party member and revolutionary is faced with the problem of whether he can persist in continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and how to persist in this revolution. This requires us to closely link theoretical study with what is on our minds and continuously remould our subjective world while transforming the objective world. Chairman Mao has said: “In the building of a socialist society, everybody needs remoulding—the exploiters and also the working people.” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) “Everybody should study and remould himself.” (Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work.) Can the worker-peasant-soldier masses keep raising their communist consciousness, resist corruption by capitalist ideas and styles of work and retain the revolutionary qualities of the working people? Can intellectuals continue to use Marxism to remould their stand, viewpoint and method, criticize idealism and metaphysical ideas and persist in serving proletarian politics and integrating themselves with the masses of workers and peasants? Should Communist Party members and revolutionary cadres, at every turn, think of themselves before others or should they devote themselves to the revolution and to serving the people wholeheartedly? Should we set demands on ourselves according to the requirements for proletarian advanced elements, or put ourselves on a par with ordinary working people and even on the level of the petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie? Should we persist in closely uniting more than 95 per cent of the masses and cadres for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat or engage in sectarian and splittist activities? These are problems concerning world outlook, which have to be solved in all seriousness by studying the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Leading cadres of the Party should take the lead in studying well. The basic programme of our Party is the complete overthrow of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in place of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the triumph of socialism over capitalism and the ultimate realization of communism. This programme is put forward in the light of the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Only when we understand this theory can we know how to put this programme into practice, persist in continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and at all times guard against corruption by bourgeois ideology and persevere in “fighting self, criticizing revisionism.” Only thus can we maintain militant revolutionary spirit and, as Chairman Mao has demanded of us, “maintain the same vigour, the same revolutionary enthusiasm and the same daring death-defying spirit we displayed in the years of revolutionary war, and carry on our revolutionary work to the end.”
Lecturing on the Marxist theory of the state in a university after the October Revolution, Lenin told his audience: “I also hope that in addition to talks and lectures you will devote some time to reading at least a few of the most important works of Marx and Engels.” (The State.) This should be the case with our study. To study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat still better, we can select and study some other works such as Lenin’s Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and A Great Beginning and Chairman Mao’s Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, in addition to Critique of the Gotha Programme, The State and Revolution, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People and other assigned works by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and by Chairman Mao. It is also advisable to compile excerpts and quotations from their works on the dictatorship of the proletariat for study by the masses. Since assiduous study of works by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and by Chairman Mao is the basic way of understanding and having a good grasp of the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, we must make conscientious efforts to read. It is also necessary to make investigations and study of some typical examples by using the method of combining theory with practice. We should really thrash out some basic questions such as: Why is there still class struggle in the historical period of socialism and what is its law? Why does revisionism emerge? Why must the proletariat exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the realm of the superstructure including the various spheres of culture and how to realize this dictatorship? Why is it necessary to uphold the Party’s basic line? Why is it necessary to strengthen the Party’s centralized leadership and how to strengthen it? And so on. As long as we make unremitting efforts and persevere in reading and studying in connection with reality, we will be able to gain a rather clear understanding of the Marxist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, many comrades have come to the profound realization that to study or not to study revolutionary theory is a matter of line and a question of principle as to whether Marxism or revisionism is practised and that they will lose their bearings in practice if they are not versed in theory. Hence the enhancement of their consciousness in studying Marxism. We are deeply convinced that conscientious study by the masses of the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought on the dictatorship of the proletariat will certainly propel the development of China’s socialist revolution and construction by leaps and bounds.
(A translation of an article in “Hongqi,” No. 2,
1975. Subheads are ours [Peking Review’s].)
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