[Single Spark]

Mao’s Evaluations of Stalin

A Collection and Summary

(Sept. 6, 2006)

[This collection of quotations about Stalin from Mao’s writings was originally prepared by me as part of a much larger project by the Single Spark Collective to attempt to reevaluate Stalin. The introduction and summation sections were written by me with some valuable input and criticisms by other members of Single Spark. Right after this collection came out it was published as a pamphlet by a radical publishing house in India. (Unfortunately this pamphlet was virtually impossible to obtain in the U.S.) —Scott H.]


      The Single Spark web site is sponsoring a collective investigation and reappraisal of Stalin, and the Soviet Union in his times, from the point of view of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. As such, it seems appropriate to start by first reviewing the various evaluations and criticisms of Stalin that Mao himself made over the years. We are not assuming that these comments are what our own final appraisal of Stalin should be exclusively based on. The passage of time and the opening up of Soviet archives, and a large amount of additional critical commentary from a variety of perspectives has given us the resources on which to base a more objective evaluation than was possible in Mao’s day. But Mao’s comments nevertheless form a good initial orientation for us as we begin our investigations.

      The excerpts below do not include every single reference to Stalin by Mao, but they do include all of them we have located which could be deemed to explicitly or implicitly evaluate Stalin in some significant way. (If you know of others, please email us!) Most of these comments, however, were not meant to be all-sided evaluations of Stalin, and all of them are the products of their times. In most cases these comments below are excerpts from larger documents, but an attempt has been made to include enough of the context so that the remarks are clear. The unattributed words in brackets are clarifying remarks that were inserted by the editors of the different editions of Mao’s writings. Our own editorial clarifications are also in brackets and are signed “Ed.” The English source editions used are listed at the end of this document.

      Many of these quotations come originally from various Red Guard editions of Mao’s writings which were published during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-69). These editions sometimes contain only portions of a particular work and therefore it is necessary to consult more than one edition. Moreover, some of Mao’s speeches are only known to us through notes that were prepared by listeners. Although these notes are generally pretty carefully done, there are in some cases different versions of the notes which do show considerable differences between them. As might be expected, there are also sometimes different translations of Mao’s writings into English which show some differences. And, finally, some of Mao’s writings as officially published by the Chinese government—especially volume V of the Selected Works which was published after Mao’s death—have been expurgated or changed to reflect the political line of the CPC at the time they were published. For all these reasons there are sometimes different “versions” available of particular works by Mao, as will be seen below.

      In part II below we attempt a summary of Mao’s criticisms of Stalin by specific topic.

Part I: Mao’s Evaluations of Stalin

(In Order by Date)

      “Generally speaking, all Communist Party members who have a certain capacity for study should study the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin, study the history of our nation, and study the circumstances and trends of current movements; moreover, they should serve to educate members with a lower cultural level….
      “The theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin are universally applicable. We should not regard their theories as dogma but as a guide to action.”
      —“On the New Stage” (Oct. 12-14, 1938), MRP6, p. 537. In a slightly different translation in SW2, pp. 208-9.

      [Edgar Snow writing:] “On another occasion I asked Mao whether, in his opinion, Russia’s occupation of Poland was primarily justified by strategic-military necessity or political necessity.
      “Mao seemed to think that the governing factor was strategic necessity, but that the move was partly military and partly political. The political side was not related directly to the world condition of the revolutionary movement but to the Soviet Union’s historic relations with Eastern Poland. The Soviet-German Pact, on the other hand, was not political but a strategic-military necessity. Stalin wanted it in order to block Chamberlain’s effort to build a coalition against Russia. Mao claimed that Chamberlain had clearly indicated to Hitler that he had to make a choice between fighting Russia or fighting England. If Hitler attacked Russia, Chamberlain was prepared to tolerate his occupation of Poland, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and the Baltic states. If not, he would use Poland to oppose Hitler. Stalin was then compelled to seek his own agreement with Hitler.”
      —Edgar Snow’s report of an interview with Mao, in “Interviews with Edgar Snow” (Sept. 24-26), 1939), MRP7, p. 229. Thus according to Snow, Mao fully supported Stalin’s decision to sign a non-aggression pact with Germany and to occupy eastern Poland. (See also pp. 221-228 of the Snow interviews.)

      “December 21 of this year is Comrade Stalin’s sixtieth birthday. It can be anticipated that this birthday will call forth warm and affectionate congratulations in the hearts of all those people in the world who are aware of this event and who know suffering.
      “To congratulate Stalin is not merely doing something to observe the occasion. To congratulate Stalin means to support him, to support his cause, to support the cause of the Soviet Union, to support the victory of socialism, to support the orientation he points out for humanity, and to support our own close friend. Today in the world the great majority of humanity is suffering and only by following the orientation pointed out by Stalin, and with Stalin’s aid, can humanity be rescued from disaster.
      “We Chinese people are now living in a time of profound calamity unprecedented in history, a time when help from others is most urgently needed. The Book of Poetry says, ‘Ying goes its cry, seeking with its voice its companion.’ We are precisely at such a juncture.
      “But who are our friends?
      “There is one kind of so-called friends who style themselves our friends, and some among us also unthinkingly call them friends. But such friends can only be classed with Li Linfu of the Tang dynasty. Li Linfu was a prime minister of the Tang dynasty, a notorious man who was described as having ‘honey dripping from his tongue and a sword concealed in his heart.’ These friends today are precisely friends with ‘honey dripping from their tongues and swords concealed in their hearts.’ Who are these people? Part of those imperialists who say that they sympathize with China.
      “There is another kind of friends who are different; they have real sympathy for us, and regard us as brothers. Who are these people? They are the Soviet Union, and Stalin.
      “Not a single country has renounced its special rights and privileges in China; only the Soviet Union has done this.
      “At the time of the Northern Expedition, all the imperialists opposed us, and the Soviet Union alone assisted us.
      “Since the beginning of the anti-Japanese war, not a single government of any imperialist country has really helped us. The Soviet Union alone has helped us with its great resources in men, materiel, and money.
      “Is this not clear enough?
      “To the cause of the liberation of the Chinese nation and the Chinese people, only the socialist country, the socialist leaders, the socialist people, and socialist thinkers, statesmen, and toilers are truly giving assistance. Without their help, it is impossible to win final victory.
      “Stalin is the true friend of the Chinese nation and of the cause of the liberation of the Chinese people. The Chinese people’s love and respect for Stalin, and our friendship for the Soviet Union, are wholly sincere. Any attempt, from whatever quarter, to sow dissension by rumor-mongering and slander will be of no avail in the end.”
      —“Stalin Is the Friend of the Chinese People” (Dec. 20, 1939), MRP7, pp. 307-308, in full. A different translation is available in SW2, pp. 335-6.

      “Today we are holding a meeting to congratulate Stalin on his sixtieth birthday. ‘From ancient times, few men have reached the age of seventy,’ and living to the age of sixty is also rare. But why do we celebrate only Stalin’s birthday? And why, moreover, are such celebrations taking place not only in Yan’an but in the whole country and in the whole world? Provided only that they know who the man is who was born this day, provided that they know what manner of man he is, then all those who suffer oppression will congratulate him. The reason is that Stalin is the savior of all the oppressed. What kind of people are opposed to congratulating him and do not like to congratulate him? Only those who do not suffer oppression but, on the contrary, oppress other people, first of all, the imperialists. Comrades! A foreigner, who is separated from us by thousands of miles, and whose birthday is celebrated by everyone—is this not an unprecedented event?
      “This is because he is leading the great Soviet Union, because he is leading the great Communist International, because he is leading the cause of the liberation of all mankind, and is helping China to fight Japan.
      “At present, the whole world is divided into two fronts struggling against each other. On the one side is imperialism, which represents the front of the oppressors. On the other side is socialism, which represents the front of resistance to oppression. Some people imagine that the national-revolutionary front in the colonies and semicolonies occupies an intermediate position, but its enemy is imperialism, and hence it cannot do otherwise than call upon the friendship of socialism, and it cannot but belong to the revolutionary front of resistance to the oppressors. China’s diehards imagine that they can play the harlot and, at the same time, set up arches in honor of their own virtue, fighting communism with one hand, and resisting Japan with the other. They call themselves the middle-of-the-road faction, but they will never achieve their aims. If they do not repent, they will certainly end by going over to the side of counterrevolution. Both the revolutionary and the counterrevolutionary fronts must have someone to act as their leader, someone to serve as their commander. Who is the commander of the counterrevolutionary front? It is imperialism, it is Chamberlain. Who is the commander of the revolutionary front? It is socialism, it is Stalin. Comrade Stalin is the leader of the world revolution. This is an extremely important circumstance. Among the whole human race, this man, Stalin, has appeared, and this is a very great event. Because he is there, it is easer to get things done. As you know, Marx is dead, and Engels and Lenin too are dead. If there were no Stalin, who would give the orders? This is indeed a fortunate circumstance. Because there is now in the world a Soviet Union, a Communist Party, and a Stalin, the affairs of this world can be dealt with more easily. What does a revolutionary commander do? He sees to it that everyone has food to eat, clothes to wear, a place to live, and books to read. And in order to achieve this, he must lead a billion and more people to struggle against the oppressors and bring them to a final victory. This is precisely what Stalin wants to do. Since this is the case, should not all those who suffer oppression congratulate Stalin? I think they should, I think they must. We should congratulate him, support him and study him.
      “The two aspects of Stalin which we want to study are the doctrinal aspect and the practical aspect.
      “There are innumerable principles of Marxism, but in the final analysis they can be summed up in one sentence: ‘To rebel is justified.’ For thousands of years everyone said, ‘Oppression is justified, exploitation is justified, rebellion is not justified.’ From the time that Marxism appeared on the scene, this old judgment was turned upside down, and this is a great contribution. This principle was derived by the proletariat from its struggles, but Marx drew the conclusion. In accordance with this principle, there was then resistance, there was struggle, and socialism was realized. What is Comrade Stalin’s contribution? He developed this principle, developed Marxism-Leninism, and produced a very clear, concrete, and living doctrine for the oppressed people of the whole world. This is the complete doctrine for establishing a revolutionary front, overthrowing imperialism, overthrowing capitalism, and establishing a socialist society.
      “The practical aspect consists in turning doctrine into reality. Neither Marx, Engels, nor Lenin carried to completion the cause of the establishment of socialism, but Stalin did so. This is a great and unprecedented exploit. Before the Soviet Union’s two five-year plans, the capitalist newspapers of various countries proclaimed daily that the Soviet Union was in desperate straits, that socialism could not be relied upon, but what do we see today? Chamberlain’s mouth has been stopped, as have the mouths of those Chinese diehards. They all recognize that the Soviet Union has triumphed.
      “Apart from helping us from the doctrinal standpoint in our War of Resistance Against Japan, Stalin has also given us practical and concrete aid. Since the victory of Stalin’s cause, he has aided us with many airplanes, cannons, aviators, and military advisers in every theater of operations, as well as lending us money. What other country in the world has helped us in this way? What country in the world, led by what class, party, or individual, has helped us in this way? Who is there, apart from the Soviet Union, the proletariat, the Communist Party, and Stalin?
      “At present, there are people who call themselves our friends, but in fact they can only be classed with Li Linfu of the Tang dynasty. This Mr. Li Linfu was a man who had ‘honey dripping from his tongue and a sword concealed in his heart.’ The imperialists all have honey dripping from their tongues and swords concealed in their hearts, and Chamberlain is a present-day Li Linfu. What imperialist country has abolished the special privileges enjoyed by many countries in China such as the right to station troops, consular jurisdiction, extraterritoriality, and so on? Not a single one. Only the Soviet Union has abolished them.
      “In the past, Marxism-Leninism provided theoretical guidance to the world revolution. Today something has been added: it is possible to give material aid to the world revolution. This is Stalin’s great contribution.
      “After we have celebrated Stalin’s birthday, we must continue to carry out propaganda among the people of the whole country to make these facts known. We must explain things clearly to the 450 million Chinese, so that our whole people understands: only the socialist Soviet Union, only Stalin, are the good friends of China.”
      —Speech at a Meeting of All Circles in Yan’an to Commemorate Stalin’s Sixtieth Birthday (Dec. 21, 1939), MRP7, pp. 309-11, in full.

      [In “On New Democracy”, Mao quotes approvingly two long passages from Stalin on the national question and with respect to the significance of the October Revolution for revolution in China and the East. Mao prefaced these passages with the following:]
      “The correct thesis that ‘the Chinese revolution is part of the world revolution’ was put forward as early as 1924-27 during the period of China’s First Great Revolution. It was put forward by the Chinese Communists and endorsed by all those taking part in the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle of the time….
      “This correct thesis advanced by the Chinese Communists is based on Stalin’s theory.”
      —“On New Democracy” (Jan. 1940), SW2, pp. 345-6.

      “As for education for cadres whether at work or in schools for cadres, a policy should be established of focusing such education on the study of the practical problems of the Chinese revolution and using the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism as the guide, and the method of studying Marxism-Leninism statically and in isolation should be discarded. Moreover, in studying Marxism-Leninism, we should use the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course as the principle material. It is the best synthesis and summing-up of the world communist movement of the past hundred years, a model of the integration of theory and practice, and so far the only comprehensive model in the whole world. When we see how Lenin and Stalin integrated the universal truth of Marxism with the concrete practice of the Soviet revolution and thereby developed Marxism, we shall know how we should work in China.”
      —“Reform Our Study” (May 1941), SW3, p. 24.

      “I believe we should do things honestly, for without an honest attitude it is absolutely impossible to accomplish anything in this world. Which are the honest people? Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin are honest, men of science are honest. Which are the dishonest people? Trotsky, Bukharin, Chen Tu-hsiu and Chang Kuo-tao are extremely dishonest…”
      —“Rectify the Party’s Style of Work” (Feb. 1, 1942), SW3, p. 44.

      [Excerpt from Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War quoting Mao’s private reaction to the first of two telegrams Stalin sent him urging him to personally go to Chongqing (Chungking) for negotiations with Chiang Kai-shek.]
      “In the first cable (dated August 22 [1945]), Stalin said that China must hold to the road of peaceful development, that he believed the Nationalists and the Communists should reach a peace accord because a civil war would destroy the Chinese nation, and that, accordingly, he thought both Zhou [Enlai] and Mao should go to Chongqing. After receiving Stalin’s cable, an angry Mao remarked, ‘I simply don’t believe that the nation will perish if the people stand up and struggle [against the Nationalist government].’”
      —UP, p. 7. Ed. note: Later on (in early 1948) Stalin admitted that he was wrong in initially opposing the Chinese revolution in the period after World War II. Milovan Djilas reports him as saying: “True, we, too, can make a mistake! Here, when the war with Japan ended, we invited the Chinese comrades to reach an agreement as to how a modus vivendi with Chiang Kai-shek might be found. They agreed with us in word, but in deed they did it their own way when they got home: they mustered their forces and struck. It has been shown that they were right, and not we.” [Djilas, Conversations with Stalin, p. 182.] Later still, on July 27, 1949, as the Chinese revolution was on the verge of complete victory, the authors of Uncertain Partners say that while speaking to a CPC delegation in Moscow Stalin “admitted that he was not ‘too well versed’ in Chinese affairs and may have caused obstacles in the Chinese revolution.” [UP, p. 73.]

      [Mao quotes a passage from Stalin written in 1918 which includes the remark that the Great October Socialist Revolution “has thereby erected a bridge between the socialist West and the enslaved East, having created a new front of revolutions against world imperialism, extending from the proletarians of the West, through the Russian revolution, to the oppressed peoples of the East.” Mao then continues:]
      “History has developed in the direction pointed out by Stalin. The October Revolution has opened up wide possibilities for the emancipation of the peoples of the world and opened up the realistic paths towards it; it has created a new front of revolutions against world imperialism, extending from the proletarians of the West, through the Russian revolution, to the oppressed peoples of the East. This front of revolutions has been created and developed under the brilliant guidance of Lenin and, after Lenin’s death, of Stalin.”
      —“Revolutionary Forces of the World Unite, Fight Against Imperialist Aggression!” (Nov. 1948), SW4, pp. 283-4.

      [The authors of UP writing:] “In the late 1940s and well into the 1950s, Mao and other Chinese Party leaders repeatedly contended that Mikoyan [in his secret visit on Stalin’s behalf to Mao in early 1949] had recommended that the PLA not cross the Yangtze. That advice they charged up primarily to three reasons. First of all, the Soviets had simply erred in their estimate of the PLA and believed it could not defeat the Nationalists. Marshal Nie Rong-zhen comments that Stalin, lacking confidence in the military power of the Chinese Communists, ‘was somewhat like the ancient man of Qi who was worried that the sky might fall anytime.’ Fear that the crossing would raise the danger of U.S. armed intervention was the second reason, and, third, Stalin wanted to split China in half, creating conflicting ‘Northern and Southern Dynasties,’ the better to control the Communist half. [UP, p. 42. The UP authors go on to suggest that they have doubts about the truth of this story, but provide the following references in support of it:]
      [The UP authors continuing in a footnote on p. 306:] “Mao’s first known statement on the ‘Northern and Southern Dynasties’ was made in the spring of 1949, when he said: ‘Some friends abroad half believe and half disbelieve in our victory. [They are] persuading us to stop here and make the Yangtze River a border with Chiang, to create the “Northern and Southern Dynasties.”’ … In 1954, Zhou Enlai told Liu Xiao, the new ambassador to the Soviet Union, that Stalin had ‘sent a representative to Xibaipo [i.e., Mikoyan’s secret visit in Jan.-Feb. 1949 —Ed.] principally for the purpose of understanding the situation in the Chinese revolution and the points of view from our side…. The Soviet Union was dissatisfied [with our intention to liberate all China] and demanded that we “stop the civil war.” In fact the Soviet Union attempted to create the “Northern and Southern Dynasties,” namely two Chinas.’ … Mao referred to this same issue on April 11, 1957.”
      [However, a cable from Stalin to Mao in April, 1949, just before the PLA crossed the Yangtze, shows that Stalin did not at that time oppose the crossing, though he still urged caution. On the other hand, not long before sending that cable Stalin was apparently still trying to mediate an end to the civil war and keep China divided. See UP, pp. 43-44.]

      “As everyone knows, our Party passed through these twenty-eight years not in peace but amid hardships, for we had to fight enemies, both foreign and domestic, both inside and outside the Party. We thank Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin for giving us a weapon. This weapon is not a machine-gun, but Marxism-Leninism.”
      —“On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship” (June 30, 1949), SW4, p. 412.

      “World War I shook the whole globe. The Russians made the October Revolution and created the world’s first socialist state. Under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, the revolutionary energy of the great proletariat and laboring people of Russia, hitherto latent and unseen by foreigners, suddenly erupted like a volcano, and the Chinese and all mankind began to see the Russians in a new light. Then, and only then, did the Chinese enter an entirely new era in their thinking and their life. They found Marxism-Leninism, the universally applicable truth, and the face of China began to change.
      “It was through the Russians that the Chinese found Marxism. Before the October Revolution, the Chinese were not only ignorant of Lenin and Stalin, they did not even know of Marx and Engels. The salvoes of the October Revolution brought us Marxism-Leninism.”
      —Ibid., p. 413.

      “We must not put on bureaucratic airs. If we dig into a subject for several months, for a year or two, for three or five years, we shall eventually master it. At first some of the Soviet Communists also were not very good at handling economic matters and the imperialists awaited their failure too. But the Communist Party of the Soviet Union emerged victorious and, under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, it learned not only how to make the revolution but also how to carry on construction. It has built a great and splendid socialist state. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union is our best teacher and we must learn from it.”
      —Ibid., p. 423.

      “After the October Socialist Revolution, the Soviet government, following the policies of Lenin and Stalin, took the lead in abrogating the unequal treaties [concluded] with China under Imperial Russia. Over a period of almost thirty years, the Soviet people and the Soviet government have, on several occasions, assisted the Chinese people in their cause of liberation. The Chinese people will never forget that in the midst of their ordeals they received such fraternal friendship of the Soviet people and the Soviet government.
      “…I am confident that with the victory of the Chinese People’s Revolution and the founding of the Chinese People’s Republic, with the joint efforts of the New Democracies and the peace loving peoples of the world, with the common aspirations and close cooperation of [our] two great countries, China and the Soviet Union, and especially with the correct international policies of Generalissimo Stalin, these tasks will certainly be fully carried out and excellent results will be attained.
      “Long live the friendship and cooperation of China and the Soviet Union!”
      —Speech on Arrival at Moscow Train Station (Dec. 16, 1949), WMZ1, p. 51.

“Dear comrades and friends:
      “I am genuinely pleased to have the chance to join this distinguished gathering in celebration of the seventieth birthday of Comrade Stalin.
      “Comrade Stalin is a teacher and friend of the people of the world as well as a teacher and friend of the Chinese people. He has further developed the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism and has made extremely outstanding and extensive contributions to the cause of the world Communist movement. In the arduous struggle to resist their oppressors, the Chinese people have become deeply appreciative of the importance of Comrade Stalin’s friendship.
      “At this distinguished gathering, on behalf of the Chinese people and the Communist Party of China, I congratulate Comrade Stalin on his seventieth birthday and wish him health and longevity. We wish well-being, strength, and prosperity to our great friend, the Soviet Union under the leadership of Comrade Stalin. We hail the great unprecedented solidarity of the working class in the world under the leadership of Comrade Stalin.
      “Long live the great Stalin, leader of the world’s working class and of the international Communist movement!
      “Long live the Soviet Union, the stronghold of world peace and democracy!”
      —Address at Birthday Celebration Meeting Held for Stalin (Dec. 21, 1949), WMZ1, pp. 52-3, in full. [Although this tribute sounds effusive to us today, when compared to the other speeches from Communist leaders present at Stalin’s birthday celebration it sounds quite restrained and subdued. The authors of UP comment: “In his speech, Mao was lukewarm in his praise of Stalin, describing him as ‘great,’ as opposed to the glowing terms used by all the other foreign leaders: ‘genius,’ ‘genial thinker and leader,’ ‘genial teacher,’ and ‘genial warrior.’” (UP, p. 317, note 80. ‘Genial’, in this context does not mean “friendly”, but rather “of genius”; thus a ‘genial thinker’ is a “thinker of genius”.) Mao’s speech was nevertheless well received. —Ed.]

      “Comrade Stalin and many foreign comrades all feel that the victory of the Chinese revolution is an extremely great one.”
      —“Don’t Attack on All Fronts” (June 6, 1950), WMZ1, p. 104.

“Comrade Shvernik:
      “It was with boundless grief that the Chinese people, the Chinese government, and I myself learned the news of the passing away of the Chinese people’s closest friend and great teacher, Comrade Stalin. This is an inestimable loss, not only for the people of the Soviet Union, but for the Chinese people, for the entire camp of peace and democracy, and for peace-loving people through the world. On behalf of the Chinese people, the Chinese government, and on my own behalf, I extend to you and to the people and government of the Soviet Union our deepest condolences.
      “The victory of the Chinese people’s revolution is absolutely inseparable from Comrade Stalin’s unceasing care, leadership, and support of over thirty years. Since the victory of the Chinese people’s revolution, Comrade Stalin and the people and government of the Soviet Union, under his leadership, have rendered generous and selfless assistance to the Chinese people’s cause of construction. Such a great and profound friendship as that which Comrade Stalin had for the Chinese people will be forever remembered with gratitude by the Chinese people. The immortal beacon of Comrade Stalin will forever illuminate the path on which the Chinese people march forward.”
      —Telegram to the USSR on Stalin’s Death (March 6, 1953), WMZ1, p. 327.

      “Generalissimo Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of our great ally the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, unfortunately passed away at 9:50 p.m. (Moscow time), March 5, 1953. In order to express the Chinese people’s immensely profound mourning [at the demise] of our great Comrade Stalin, the great leader of the world’s laboring people and the most respected and beloved friend and mentor of the Chinese people, and in order to express the Chinese people’s reverence for the leader of our great ally, it is hereby decreed that:
      “1.   From March 7 to March 9, 1953, flags shall fly at half-mast throughout our country as a symbol of mourning;
      “2.   In this period of mourning, all factories, mines, enterprises, units of the armed forces, government organs, schools, and people’s organizations shall suspend all banquets and [other] forms of entertainment.”
      —Central People’s Government’s Decree on Stalin’s Death (March 6, 1953), WMZ1, p. 328, in full.

      “Comrade Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, the greatest genius of the present age, the great teacher of the world Communist movement, and the comrade-in-arms of the immortal Lenin, has departed from the world.
      “Comrade Stalin’s contribution to our era through his theoretical activities and practice is incalculable. Comrade Stalin represented our entire new age. His activities have led the Soviet people and the working people of all countries to turn around the whole world situation. That is to say, the cause of justice and of People’s Democracy and socialism has achieved victory in an immense region of the world, a region embracing more than 800 million people—one third of the earth’s population. Moreover, the influence of this victory is daily spreading to every corner of the world.       “The death of Comrade Stalin has caused the laboring people of the whole world to feel unparalleled and profound grief; it has stirred the hearts of just people throughout the world. This demonstrates that Comrade Stalin’s cause and his thought have gripped the broad masses of the people throughout the world and have already become an invincible force, a force that will guide those people who have already achieved victory in achieving still more fresh victories, one after another, and, at the same time, will guide all those people who are still groaning under the oppression of the evil old world of capitalism so that they can strike courageously at the enemies of the people.
      “After the death of Lenin, Comrade Stalin led the Soviet people in building into a magnificent socialist society the first socialist state in the world, which he, together with the great Lenin, created at the time of the October Revolution. The victory of socialist construction in the Soviet Union was not only a victory for the people of the Soviet Union, but also a common victory for the people of the whole world. First, this victory proved in the most real-life terms the infinite correctness of Marxism-Leninism and concretely educated working people through the world on how they should advance toward a good life. Second, this victory ensured that during the Second World War humanity would have the strength to defeat the Fascist beast. The achievement of victory in the anti-Fascist war would have been inconceivable without the victory of socialist construction in the Soviet Union. The fate of all humanity was bound up with the victory of socialist construction in the Soviet Union and victory in the anti-Fascist war, and the glory for these victories should be attributed to our great Comrade Stalin.
      “Comrade Stalin developed Marxist-Leninist theory in a comprehensive and epoch-making way and propelled the development of Marxism to a new stage. Comrade Stalin creatively developed Lenin’s theory concerning the law of the uneven development of capitalism and the theory that it is possible for socialism to first achieve victory in one country; Comrade Stalin creatively contributed the theory of the general crisis of the capitalist system; he contributed the theory concerning the building of communism in the Soviet Union; he contributed the theory of the fundamental economic laws of present-day capitalism and of socialism; he contributed the theory of revolution in colonies and semi-colonies. Comrade Stalin also creatively developed Lenin’s theory of party-building. All these creative theories of Comrade Stalin’s further united the workers throughout the world, further united the oppressed classes and oppressed people throughout the world, thereby enabling the struggle of the world’s working class and all oppressed people for liberation and well-being and the victories in this struggle to reach unprecedented proportions.
      “All of Comrade Stalin’s writings are immortal documents of Marxism. His works, The Foundations of Leninism, The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [Bolshevik], and his last great work, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, constitute an encyclopedia of Marxism-Leninism, a synthesis of the experience of the world Communist movement of the past hundred years. His speech at the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is a precious last testament bequeathed to the Communists of all the countries of the world. We Chinese Communists, like the Communists of all countries, search for our own road to victory in the great works of Comrade Stalin.
      “Since the death of Lenin, Comrade Stalin has always been the central figure in the world Communist movement. We rallied around him, constantly asked his advice, and constantly drew ideological strength from his works. Comrade Stalin was full of warmth for the oppressed peoples of the East. ‘Do not forget the East’—this was Comrade Stalin’s great call after the October Revolution. Everyone knows that Comrade Stalin warmly loved the Chinese people and regarded the might of the Chinese revolution as incalculable. On the question of the Chinese revolution, he contributed his exalted wisdom. It was by following the teachings of Lenin and Stalin, along with having the support of the great Soviet state and all the revolutionary forces of other countries, that the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people achieved their historic victory a few years ago.
      “Now we have lost our great teacher and most sincere friend—Comrade Stalin. What a misfortune this is! The sorrow that this misfortune has brought us cannot be described in words.
      “Our task is to transform sorrow into strength. In memory of our great teacher Stalin, the great friendship between the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people [on the one hand] and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet people [on the other] formed in the name of Stalin will never cease to be strengthened. The Chinese Communists and the Chinese people will further intensify the study of Stalin’s teachings and the study of Soviet science and technology in order to build our country.
      “The Communist Party of the Soviet Union is a party nurtured personally by Lenin and Stalin; it is the most advanced, the most experienced, and the most theoretically cultivated party in the world. This party has been our model in the past, is our model at present, and will still be our model in the future. We fully believe that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the government of the Soviet Union headed by Comrade Malenkov will definitely be able to carry on Comrade Stalin’s unfinished work and push the great cause of Communism forward and carry it to greater and more glorious development.
      “There is not the slightest doubt that the camp of world peace, democracy, and socialism headed by the Soviet Union will become even more united and even more powerful.
      “In the past thirty years, Comrade Stalin’s teachings and the model of the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union have facilitated a major step forward for the world. Now that the Soviet Union has become so powerful, the Chinese people’s revolution has achieved such great victories, construction in the various people’s democracies has achieved such great success, the movement of the peoples of various countries throughout the world against oppression and aggression has risen to such heights, and our front of friendship and solidarity is so consolidated, we can say with complete certainty that we are not afraid of any imperialist aggression. Any imperialist aggression will be smashed by us, and all their despicable provocations will be to no avail.
      “The reason that the great friendship between the peoples of the two countries, China and the Soviet Union, is unbreakable is that our friendship has been built on the great principles of the internationalism of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. The friendship between the peoples of the various people’s democracies, as well as with all the people who love peace, democracy, and justice in all the countries of the world is also built upon these great principles of internationalism and consequently is also unbreakable.
      “Clearly, the strength created by this kind of friendship of ours in inexhaustible and truly invincible.
      “Let all imperialist aggressors and warmongers tremble before our great friendship!
      “Long live the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin!
      “Immortal glory to the heroic name of the great Stalin!”
      —“The Greatest Friendship” (March 9, 1953), WMZ1, pp. 329-32, in full.

      “[Stalin’s] merits outweigh his faults; [we must] make a concrete analysis [of Stalin’s case], and overall assessment [taking all aspects into account].”
      —Comment on Stalin made to Mikoyan around April 6, 1956, about two months after the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in which Khrushchev denounced Stalin. WMZ2, p. 41, in full.

      [The authors of UP writing, and referring to a secret “Additional Agreement” to the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance of February 1950, in which Stalin forced China to agree not to allow the citizens of third countries to settle or to carry out any industrial, financial, trade, or other related activities in Manchuria and Xinjiang:] “The agreement reminded the Chinese of the unequal treaties of the past… But we have since learned that as early as April 1956, Mao told Mikoyan the secret deals on Xinjiang and Manchuria were ‘two bitter pills’ that Stalin forced him to swallow, and the next year he complained to Gromyko that ‘only imperialists’ would think of imposing such a deal on China. Indeed, in his contempt for the agreement, Mao came close to giving the game away in [March] 1958, when he spoke of ‘two “colonies” [in China], the Northeast and Xinjiang, where the people of third countries were not permitted to settle down.’”
      —UP, p. 122.

      “The problem of transmitting [communications]. There are certain things that can be talked about everywhere. The bad things about Stalin and the Third International can be transmitted to the [special] district [Party] committee secretaries as well as to the xian [Party] committee secretaries. These [bad things] were not written into the article out of consideration for the situation as a whole. (In this article there was but one line written: Some bad suggestions were made), and we are not prepared to discuss them in newspapers or among the masses.”
      —Talk at Enlarged Meeting of the Political Bureau (April 1956), WMZ2, pp. 71-72. An editorial footnote says that by “bad things” Mao is referring to the criticisms made of Stalin by Khrushchev in his “secret” speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956. The “article” referred to here is apparently “On the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat” which appeared in the People’s Daily on April 5, 1956. The word xian means something like “county” or “district”.

      “When we talk about committing errors we mean committing errors in subjective [perception] and mistakes in thinking. The many articles that we have seen criticizing Stalin’s errors either don’t mention this issue at all, or mention this issue only very infrequently. Why did Stalin commit errors? It’s because on some questions his subjective [perception] did not correspond to objective reality. At present, things like this still [occur] frequently in our work. To be subjective is to proceed not from objective reality or from realistic possibility but rather from subjective desires….”
      —“Reinforce the Unity of the Party and Carry Forward the Party Traditions” (Aug. 30, 1956), a speech at a preparatory meeting for the Eighth National Congress of the CPC. WMZ2, p. 112.

      “The first thing is to unite with the several dozen Communist parties and with the Soviet Union. Since some mistakes have occurred in the Soviet Union and those things have been much talked about, they have been exaggerated, and now there is the impression that mistakes of that kind are really terrible. There is something wrong with such an outlook. It is impossible for any nation not to commit any mistakes at all, and [since] the Soviet Union was the first socialist country in the world, and has had such a long experience, it is impossible for it not to have made some mistakes. Where are the mistakes of the Soviet Union, such as Stalin’s mistakes, located [in the scheme of things]? They are partial and temporary. Although we hear that some [of these] things have been around for twenty years already, they are nevertheless still temporary and partial and can be corrected. The main current in the Soviet Union, its principal aspect, the majority [of its people], was correct. Russia gave birth to Leninism, and after the October Revolution, it became the first socialist country. It built socialism, defeated fascism, and became a great industrial state. It has many things from which we can learn. Of course, we should study the advanced experiences, and not the backward experiences. We have always proposed the slogan of studying the advanced experience of the Soviet Union. Who asked you to learn the backward experiences? Some people say that no matter what, even the farts of the Russians smell good; that too is subjectivism. Even the Russians themselves would admit that they stink! Therefore, things must be analyzed. We’ve said before that with regard to Stalin, we should [see him as having been] three parts [bad] and seven parts [good].”
      —Ibid., pp. 113-4. An editor’s note states that this is probably the first public statement of the “three parts bad, seven parts good” summation of Stalin that Mao repeated subsequently on a number of occasions (see below).

      “Stalin should be criticized, but we have differing opinions as to the form the criticism ought to take. There are some other questions, too, on which we disagree.”
      —Remarks about the Criticism of Stalin (Oct. 23, 1956), WMZ2, p. 148, in full. A comment made to P. F. Yudin, the Soviet ambassador to China.

      “I’d like to say something about the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. As I see it, there are two ‘knives’: one is Lenin and the other is Stalin. The Russians have now relinquished the knife represented by Stalin. Gomulka and some people in Hungary have picked up this knife to kill the Soviet Union, [by] opposing the so-called Stalinism. The Communist parties of many European countries are also criticizing the Soviet Union; the leader [of these parties] is Togliatti. The imperialists are also using this knife to kill people; Dulles, for one, picked it up and played around with it for some time. This knife was not loaned out; it was thrown out. We, the Chinese, did not discard it. Our first [principle] is to defend Stalin; the second is also to criticize Stalin’s mistakes; [so] we wrote the essay ‘On the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.’
      “We are unlike some people who smeared and destroyed Stalin. Rather, we have acted in accordance with the actual situation.
      “Are parts of the knife represented by Lenin now also being discarded by people in the Soviet leadership? As I see it, much of it has already been discarded. Is [the experience of] the October Revolution still valid? Can it remain a model for all other countries? Khrushchev’s report at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU stated that it is possible to achieve political power through parliamentary means. This is to say that other countries no longer need to emulate the October Revolution. Once this door is opened, Leninism will basically be abandoned….
      “How much capital do you have? All you have is a Lenin and a Stalin. But you have discarded Stalin, and most of Lenin too. Lenin’s legs are gone, perhaps there’s still a head left, or perhaps one of Lenin’s two hands has been chopped off. We study Marxism-Leninism, and we learn from the October Revolution. Marx has written so much, and Lenin has also written so much! Relying on the masses and taking the mass line are things we learned from them. It is very dangerous not to rely on the masses in waging class struggle and not to distinguish between the enemy and ourselves.”
      —Speech at the Second Plenum of the Eight Central Committee (Nov. 15, 1956), Version I, WMZ2, pp. 166-7. This version of the speech, however, had many strong criticisms of Stalin removed from it. (See the next item below.)

      “From the very beginning our Party has emulated the Soviet Union. The mass line, our political work, and [the theory of] the dictatorship of the proletariat have all been learned from the October Revolution. At that time, Lenin had focused on the mobilization of the masses, and on organizing the worker-peasant-soldier soviet, and so on. He did not rely on [doing things by] administrative decree. Rather, Lenin sent Party representatives to carry out political work. The problem lies with the latter phase of Stalin’s leadership [which came] after the October Revolution. Although [Stalin] was still promoting socialism and communism, he nonetheless abandoned some of Lenin’s things, deviated from the orbit of Leninism, and became alienated from the masses, and so on. Therefore, we did suffer some disadvantages when we emulated the things of the later stages of Stalin’s leadership and transplanted them for application in China in a doctrinaire way. Today, the Soviet Union still has some advanced experiences that deserve to be emulated, but there are some other [aspects] in which we simply cannot be like the Soviet Union. For example, the socialist transformation of the capitalist industries and commerce, the cooperativization of agriculture, and the Ten Major Relationships in economic construction; these are all ways of doing things in China. From now on, in our socialist economic construction, we should primarily start with China’s circumstances, and with the special characteristics of the circumstances and the times in which we are situated. Therefore, we must still propose the slogan of learning from the Soviet Union; just that we cannot forcibly and crudely transplant and employ things blindly and in a doctrinaire fashion. Similarly, we can also learn some of the things that are good in bourgeois countries; this is because every country must have its strengths and weaknesses, and we intend chiefly to learn other people’s strengths.
      “Stalin had a tendency to deviate from Marxism-Leninism. A concrete expression of this is [his] negation of contradictions, and to date, [the Soviet Union] has not yet thoroughly eliminated the influence of this viewpoint of Stalin’s. Stalin spoke [the language of] materialism and the dialectical method, but in reality he was subjectivist. He placed the individual above everything else, negated the group, and negated the masses. [He engaged in] the worship of the individual; in fact, to be more precise, [in] personal dictatorships. This is antimaterialism. Stalin also spoke of the dialectical method, but in reality [he] was metaphysical. For example, in the [Short] History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik), he wrote of the dialectical method, [but] put [the theory of] contradictions [only] at the very end. We should say that the most fundamental problem of dialectics is the unity of contradictory opposites. It is [precisely] because of his metaphysical [character] that a one-sided viewpoint was produced, in which the internal connections in a thing are repudiated, and problems are looked at isolatedly and in a static way. To pay heed to dialectics would be to look at problems and treat a problem as a unity of opposites, and that is why it would be [a] comprehensive [methodology]. Life and death, war and peace, are opposites of a contradiction. In reality, they also have an internal connection between them. That is why at times these oppositions are also united. When we [seek to] understand problems we cannot see only one side. We should analyze [it] from all sides, look through its essence. In this way, with regard to [understanding] a person, we would not be [taking the position] at one time that he is all good, and then at another time that he is all bad, without a single good point. Why is our Party correct? It is because we have been able to proceed from the objective conditions in understanding and resolving all problems; in this way we are more comprehensive and we can avoid being absolutists.
      “Secondly, the mass line was seen as tailism by Stalin. [He] did not recognize the good points about the mass line, and he used administrative methods to resolve many problems. But we Communists are materialists; we acknowledge that it is the masses who create everything and are the masters of history. [For us] there are no individual heroes; only when the masses are united can there be strength. In fact, since Lenin died, the mass line has been forgotten in the Soviet Union. [Even] at the time of opposing Stalin, [the Soviet Union’s leadership] still did not properly acknowledge or emphasize the significance of the mass line. Of course, more recently, attention has begun to be paid to this, but the understanding is still not [sufficiently] deep.
      “Furthermore, class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat were [items] that Lenin had emphasized. At one time, the divergence between Lenin and the Third International and the Second International was mainly along the lines that the Marxists emphasized the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat whereas the opportunists were unwilling to acknowledge them. One of the lessons to be learned from the occurrence of the Polish and Hungarian Incidents, in addition to [the fact that] there were shortcomings in the work [of the Communist parties], is that after the victory of the revolution they had not properly mobilized the masses to weed out thoroughly the counterrevolutionary elements.”
      —Speech at the Second Plenum of the Eight Central Committee (Nov. 15, 1956), Version II, WMZ2, pp. 185-6. One excessively long paragraph in the report of this speech has been broken up into three paragraphs for readability purposes. Note that an expurgated version of this speech, which drastically tones down the criticisms of Stalin, is given as “version I” in WMZ2, and was also published in slightly different form after Mao’s death in the Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, vol. V. (An excerpt from “version I” is presented above, just before this item.)

      “The fundamental policy and line during the period of Stalin’s administration were correct; methods employed against the enemy mustn’t be used against our own comrade.”
      —Comment on the Criticism of Stalin (Nov. 30, 1956), WMZ2, p. 196. A remark made to the Soviet ambassador.

      “Last year several great storms raged in the international sphere. The Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union kicked up a row against Stalin. Following that, the imperialists cooked up two major anti-Communist storms, and in the international Communist movement also there were two big storms of debate. Some of the [Communist] parties in Europe and America felt the impact of these upheavals and suffered considerable damage, but the damage sustained and the degree to which the [Communist] parties in the countries in the East were affected was relatively small. With the convocation of the ‘Twentieth Congress’ of the CPSU, some people who had supported Stalin enthusiastically in the past have now become very vigorous in their opposition [to him]. I don’t think these people are practicing Marxism-Leninism; they do not analyze problems, and they are also lacking in revolutionary ethics. Marxism-Leninism also includes [the code of] revolutionary ethics of the proletariat. You supported [Stalin] so very enthusiastically in the past; before making such a big switch now, you must at least give some reason [for doing so]. [Instead,] you offered no reason at all, but made such a sudden 180-degree turn and acted as if you had never supported Stalin, although actually you supported him very strongly in the past. The Stalin problem involves the entire international Communist movement, and the parties in all countries have become involved.
      “With regard to the ‘Twentieth Congress’ of the CPSU, the overwhelming majority of the cadres in our Party are dissatisfied with it, believing that it was too harsh in its treatment of Stalin. This is a normal feeling and a normal reaction. Among a minority, however, there is stirring. Whenever a typhoon approaches, the ants will leave their holes before the rain comes. They have very sharp ‘noses,’ and they understand meteorology. When the typhoon of the CPSU’s Twentieth Congress approached, in China too, some ants left their holes. These are the vacillating elements in the Party; they vacillate whenever they get the chance. When they heard that Stalin was knocked off with a single blow, they felt very comfortable about it and swung over to the [other] side, shouting ‘Long live [Khrushchev]!’ and saying that everything about Khrushchev was good and that they’d always held that view. Later, when the imperialists hit back with a few blows, and a few blows were delivered from within the international Communist movement itself, even Khrushchev had to change his tune, and they again swung back over to this side. Compelled by the general trend, they had no choice but to swing back. [It’s like] a tuft of grass on a wall; when the wind blows it sways to one side and then the other. To swing back was not their true intention; their true intention was to swing over to the other side. Those people within the Party and outside it who gloated about the Polish affair and the Hungarian affair made a good show of it! They talked about Poznan one moment and about Hungary the next. In this way they exposed themselves; the ants left their holes, and even the turtles have come out. They followed Gomulka’s baton. When Gomulka said [he wanted] big democracy, they too said that ‘they wanted] big democracy. The situation has changed now, and they do not utter a sound. Silence [,however,] is not their true intention; their true intention is to make a lot of noise.
      “Whenever a typhoon blows, the vacillating elements who cannot stand up to it will sway back and forth; this is a law. I advise everybody to pay attention to this problem….”
      —Speech at a Conference of Provincial, Municipal, and Autonomous Region Party Secretaries (Jan. 18, 1957), version I, WMZ2, pp. 230-1. (Version I is also available in SW vol. 5.) See below for the same passage from version II.

      “After the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the great majority of the people in our Party [remained] normal and secure, [but] there was a tremor among a small number of people. Before it rains, there are bound to be ants leaving their holes. In China, too, a small number of ants wanted to leave their holes to engage in some activity. Now Khrushchev has changed, and the ants have withdrawn, gone back [into the holes]. After the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, two big storms came up. The [Communist] parties in many countries suffered damage: The British Party lost one-fourth [of its membership], the Swiss [Party] half; and the United States made chaos throughout the world. The Eastern parties and the Party in China were not quite so severely affected. The problem of Stalin has involved the entire Communist movement. Some people criticize Stalin without making any analysis. The people who were most staunchly supportive of Stalin in the past are precisely the most vehemently opposed to Stalin now. They have suddenly turned around 180 degrees; they no longer talk of Marxism-Leninism, or of ethics. In the Party, some people begin to teeter as soon as there is any rustling in the wind. Some sway once or twice and then stop swaying; some will go on swaying forever. Saplings, the stalks of rice, barley, corn, and the grass on the wall always sway when they see the wind coming; only the big tree will not sway. There are typhoons every year, but there is not necessarily a political typhoon every year. This phenomenon is a natural phenomenon in society and politics.
      “The Chinese Party is a proletarian [and] semiproletarian party, but many members come from rich peasant, landlord, and capitalist family backgrounds. Some Party members, even though they have struggled hard and arduously for many years, have not learned Marxism-Leninism well, and cannot endure typhoons ideologically and politically; they ought to pay attention. Some people in the Party have passed every gate except this gate of socialism….”
      —Speech at a Conference of Provincial, Municipal, and Autonomous Region Party Secretaries (Jan. 18, 1957), version II, WMZ2, pp. 240-1. See previous item for the same passage from version I.

      “My advice to the comrades here today is that if you [already] understand materialism and dialectics, then you still need to supplement it by learning a bit about their opposites, idealism and metaphysics. Those things on the opposing side, Kant’s and Hegel’s writings, Confucius, and Chiang Kai-shek’s books, ought to be read. If you don’t understand idealism and metaphysics and have not undergone a struggle against these things of the opposing side, your materialism and dialectics would not be solid. The shortcoming of some of our Communist Party members and Communist intellectuals is precisely that they know too little about the things on the opposite side. They read a few books written by Marx and proceed to talk about them accordingly; this is relatively monotonous. Their speeches and writings [therefore] lack persuasiveness. If you don’t study things on the opposite side you cannot refute them. Marx, Engels, and Lenin were not like that. They all studied energetically and learned all sorts of contemporary and historical things; moreover, they counseled others to do the same. The three component parts of Marxism were produced through the process of studying the things in bourgeois [society], studying German classical philosophy, British classical economics, and French utopian socialism, and struggling against them. Stalin was a bit less sound. For instance during his time German classical idealist philosophy was said to be a kind of reaction on the part of the German aristocracy to the French Revolution. To draw a conclusion like that is to totally negate German classical idealist philosophy. He [also] negated German military science, saying that [since] the Germans had been defeated, their military science was impractical, and Clausewitz’s book needn’t be read any more.
      “Stalin had a lot of metaphysical [ideas], and he taught many people to engage in metaphysics. In the Short Course on the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik), he said that Marxist dialectics had four basic characteristics. The first that he talked about was the relationship between things, as if all things were related for no reason. In fact, how are things related? The relationship is actually between the two aspects of a contradiction. In everything there are two aspects in opposition to each other. The fourth [characteristic] he talked about was the internal contradiction in things. Again, he only talked about the struggle between opposites, but not about the unity of opposites. According to this unity of opposites—this basic law of dialectics—opposites struggle against each other, and at the same time they are united; they are mutually exclusive and also interrelated, and under certain conditions they transform themselves into each other.
      “The entry on ‘identity’ in the fourth edition of the Concise Dictionary of Philosophy compiled in the Soviet Union reflects Stalin’s point of view. The dictionary says, ‘Phenomena such as war and peace, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and life and death have no identity because they are fundamentally opposed to and mutually exclusive of each other.’ This is to say that these phenomena which are in fundamental opposition to each other do not have identity in the Marxist [sense], are mutually exclusive rather than interrelated, and cannot transform themselves into each other under certain [necessary] conditions. This interpretation is fundamentally incorrect.”
      [Mao then elaborates on this point in several more paragraphs. –Ed.]
      “Stalin was unable to make the connection between the struggle and unity of opposites. The thought of some people in the Soviet Union is just metaphysical and petrified like that; they view things in either this way or that way [arbitrarily] and do not acknowledge the unity of opposites. Therefore, they make mistakes in politics. We uphold the viewpoint of the unity of opposites and adopt the policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and letting a hundred schools contend. At the same time that fragrant flowers are blooming, there will inevitably be poisonous weeds blooming too. This is nothing to fear, and, under certain conditions, it may even be beneficial.”
      —Speech at the Conference of Provincial, Municipal, and Autonomous Region Party Secretaries (Jan. 27, 1957), version I, WMZ2, pp. 253-5.

      “In our Party, there are also all sorts of opinions that are in opposition to each other. For instance, there are two opposing views regarding the CPSU’s knocking off Stalin in one blow at the ‘Twentieth Congress’; one supports [the CPSU’s action] and the other opposes it. Differences of opinion in the Party are a common occurrence. If opinions happen to coincide, after a month or two, new and differing opinions will again emerge.”
      —Ibid., p. 257.

      “The fundamental reason for being afraid of trouble and for handling these matters in a simple way lies in not recognizing ideologically that socialist society is a unity of opposites and that there are contradictions, classes, and class struggle within it.
      “For a long time Stalin refused to recognize that under the socialist system contradictions between the relations of production and the forces of production and contradictions between the superstructure and the economic base [continue to exist]. It was only when he wrote Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR one year before his death that he hesitantly discussed the contradictions between the relations of production and the forces of production under the socialist system and said that if policies were incorrect or improperly regulated, problems would arise. Even so, he still did not present [the problem of] contradictions under a socialist system between the relations and the forces of production and between the superstructure and the economic base as an issue of overall significance, he still did not recognize that these contradictions are the basic contradictions that propel socialist society forward. He thought that his state was secure. We mustn’t think that the state is secure; it is secure and, at the same time, insecure.
      “…Since the Second World War, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the parties in some countries in East Europe have no longer concerned themselves with the fundamental principles of Marxism. They are no longer concerned about class struggle, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the Party, democratic centralism, and the connection between the Party and the masses. The [political] atmosphere is thinning out. Consequently, the Hungarian affair has occurred. We must firmly uphold the fundamental theories of Marxism. Every province, municipality, and autonomous region must promote theoretical work and cultivate Marxist theoreticians and critics in a planned way.”
      —Ibid., pp. 261-2.

      “Letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is still correct. Truth emerges out of struggle with error. Beauty emerges out of comparison with and struggle with ugliness. Good deeds and good people emerge out of comparison with and struggle with evil deeds and evil people. Fragrant flowers emerge from the comparison with and struggle with poisonous weeds. Materialism emerges out of the comparison with and struggle with idealism. Many people hate Chiang Kai-shek, but they don’t know what a bastard Chiang Kai-shek really is. Therefore we should publish the collected works of Chiang Kai-shek. We should also publish the collected works of Sun Yat-sen and the collected works of Kang Youwei. To prohibit people from coming into contact with ugliness, error and fallacies, idealism, and metaphysics is a very dangerous policy. It would cause people’s thinking to deteriorate and ossify; it would make them one-sided and incapable of facing the world or meeting the challenge of a rival show. We Communists know too little about the opposite side, so we are comparatively monotonous and can hardly produce any persuasive statements. Neither Marx, nor Engels, nor Lenin was like this. They all strenuously studied contemporary and historical matters and also instructed other people to study in a like manner. Stalin was a bit inferior. He rejected German philosophy (Kant and Feuerbach), and because Germany was defeated in war he also rejected German military teachings. Germany’s classical philosophy is the forefather of Marxism. Stalin was in reality metaphysical [in his ideas], and he did not recognize the unity of opposites. In the Dictionary of Philosophy they employed a metaphysical way of putting things. [In it,] war does not turn into peace, nor does peace turn into war; the two things are separate and unrelated; they are not mutually transmutable; they only struggle [with each other], but there is no unity. Lenin said that war was an extension of politics and a special means, and that peace was a result of war. [He said that] politics was struggle during the time of peace, and that it is during times of war that peace is fomented. Stalin misled many people. These people had a lot of metaphysics in their minds and became rigid in their thinking, thus they committed political mistakes. When others disagreed [with them] occasionally, they were ostracized. [When one was deemed a] counterrevolutionary, the only [fate one could meet was that of] death by execution, and whoever disagreed with the Soviet Union was called anti-Soviet. But in real life Stalin could not do all things in this way. Stalin didn’t execute or jail everybody. In 1936 and 1937 he killed many people. In 1938 he killed fewer, and in 1939 he killed even fewer. It is not possible to execute everyone who disagrees. We, for one, had disagreements with Stalin. We wanted to sign a Sino-Soviet Treaty, but he didn’t want to sign; we wanted the Chinese-Changchun Railway back, but he didn’t want to give it up. Even so, it is still possible to snatch the meat out of a tiger’s mouth.”
      —Speech at the Conference of Provincial, Municipal, and Autonomous Region Party Secretaries (Jan. 27, 1957), version II, WMZ2, pp. 279-280.

      “Fifth, the development of agriculture is the primary source of accumulation for the state. Therefore we must persuade cadres to go to the rural areas; if we want to industrialize, then we must engage in agriculture. A ratio of accumulation must be worked out. Stalin emphasized accumulation too much, which had a [negative] impact on industry. What ratio is actually desirable still needs to be studied. In short, we must make the cooperatives expand reproduction so that we can be assured of even greater accumulation. We must not drain the pond to catch the fish.”
      —Ibid., p. 284.

      “Materialism and idealism are a unity of opposites, and dialectics and metaphysics are also a unity of opposites. With philosophy there is always struggle; to discuss philosophy you have to struggle. Some people, when they discuss philosophy, only talk about one side [of the issue]; [when they talk about] letting a hundred flowers bloom, they only talk about letting fragrant flowers bloom, and not about getting rid of poisonous weeds. We acknowledge that opposites exist in socialism. Stalin had his metaphysics, and his subjectivism. The Soviet Union does not acknowledge the existence of opposites [within socialism], and forbids [their existence] by law; as a matter of fact, many wrong things are hidden behind the front of socialism. Lenin believed that merely talking about materialism could not solve problems. To solve problems, one must struggle with idealism. To struggle with it, one must study idealism. The three component parts of Marxism are the result of struggle after having studied capitalist things.”
      —Interjections at a Conference of Provincial and Municipal Party Secretaries (Jan. 1957), WMZ2, p. 292.

      “Dogmatism has no force. One of the reasons why it has developed is because the Communist party has come into power. Marx and Engels criticized Dühring, and Lenin criticized Lunacharsky. They had to exert great efforts to outargue them. Stalin was different (he was in power). So his criticism was not balanced and was very similar to a father scolding his son. [It’s like the saying:] ‘As soon as he has power in his hands, he rules by fiat.’ Criticism should not rely on state power; it should use truth. If you use Marxism, if you apply effort, you can prevail.
      “You can’t use dogmatism to criticize others, because it has no power. See how Lenin wrote his empirio-criticism. Later on Stalin was different. He didn’t discuss problems [with others] on an equal footing. He didn’t air his opinions only after collecting large quantities of materials. Some of the things he wrote were good, others he wrote as if he were sitting on a hillock and picking up stones to hit people. One is uncomfortable after reading [such writings]….
      “Dogmatist articles are dull, oversimplified, and unconvincing.
      “Dogmatism has developed because [we] have come into power.
      “Marx and Engels put a lot of thought into refuting Dühring. But Stalin in power was different. He cursed people, was inequitable, so he couldn’t be convincing.
      “We should study articles that analyze other people.
      “Once in power, to curse people like dressing down a son is no good.
      “The relationship between the people and the party in power shouldn’t be one between the people and their master. We shouldn’t curse.
      “Dogmatism is not Marxism.”
      —Talk at Yinian Tang (Feb. 16, 1957), SSCM, pp. 119-20.

      “Stalin had his Idealism and his materialism; he had a one-sided character.
      “Metaphysics has Idealism as well as materialism. Stalin had both. He had dialectics as well as metaphysics. Precisely for this reason he had both merits and demerits; his merits surpass his demerits.
      “Soviet comrades find it difficult to change; they like to use high-handed methods.”
      —Ibid., p. 123.

      “Stalin is fundamentally a materialist. He also has some [sense of] dialectics, but not quite that much of dialectics.”
      — Conversations with Scientists and Writers on Contradiction among the People (Feb. 16, 1957), WMZ2, p. 304. (This is probably an alternate translation of the previous item.)

      “Lenin said contradictions among the people exist, but Lenin did not have time enough to analyze this question fully. As for antagonism, is it possible for contradictions among the people to be transformed from non-antagonistic contradictions into antagonistic ones? It must be said that it is possible; but in Lenin’s time this had not yet happened, and perhaps he did not watch this problem carefully since he had such a short time [as leader of the Soviet Union]. After the October Revolution, during the period when Stalin was in charge, for a long time he confused these two types of contradictions. Problems like bad mouthing the government, talking about the government, being dissatisfied with the government, being dissatisfied with the Communist party, criticizing the government, criticizing the Communist party, are in origin problems among the people. But there are two types of criticism: There is the enemy criticizing us, the enemy being dissatisfied with the Communist party; and there are the people criticizing us, the people being dissatisfied with us; and the two must be distinguished. Stalin for so many years did not make such distinctions, or rarely did. A few [comrades] who have worked in the Soviet Union for many years have told me there were no distinctions; you could only talk about good things, not bad; you could only sing praises, not make criticisms; whoever made a criticism was suspect of being an enemy and ran the risk of imprisonment or execution.”
      —“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People” (Speaking Notes), (Feb. 27, 1957), SSCM, pp. 136-7.

      “You could only speak favorably, and not unfavorably; you could only sing praises to his successes and virtues, but were not allowed to criticize; if you expressed any criticisms he suspected you of being an enemy, and you were in danger of being sent to a camp or executed…
      “‘Leftists’ are left opportunists. The so-called ‘leftists’ raise the banner of the ‘left’ but they are not really left, for they exaggerate the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy. Stalin, for example, was such a person…”
      —“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People” (Speaking Notes), (Feb. 27, 1957). Quoted in TMT, p. 122. Alternate translation below.

      “‘Left’-ists, ‘left’ opportunists. So-called ‘leftists’ are ‘left’ in quotation marks, not the true left. These people excessively emphasize antagonistic contradictions between the enemy and ourselves. For example, Stalin was this kind of person; we, too, have such people who stress [them] to excess, mistaking the second type of contradiction, contradictions originally among the people, for the first type, mistaking them as [contradictions] between the enemy and ourselves….
      “…The policy previously employed was the one brought back from the Western Paradise. That ‘Western Paradise’ was Stalin and [the policy] was called ‘ruthless struggle and merciless blows.’ Seeing that this was not suitable, when we later criticized dogmatism, we discontinued using the method of ‘dealing with a man as he deals with you’ [i.e., ‘an eye for an eye’]. [We] chose another method, another policy, which is to unite with them, to proceed from the desire for unity, to go through criticism or struggle, to achieve unity based on a new foundation. This policy was apparently [sic] raised in the 1942 Rectification [Movement].”
      —“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People” (Speaking Notes), (Feb. 27, 1957), SSCM, pp. 138-9. Alternate translation above. Mao is speaking here of intra-party struggle.

      “How has the work of eliminating counter-revolutionaries been carried out after all in our country? Very badly, or very well? In my opinion, there have been shortcomings, but if we compare ourselves with other countries, we have done relatively well. We have done better than the Soviet Union, and better than Hungary. The Soviet Union has been too leftist, and Hungary too rightist….
      “He [Stalin] didn’t deal with this matter well at all. He had two aspects. On the one hand, he eliminated genuine counter-revolutionaries; this aspect was correct. On the other hand, he wrongly killed a large number of people, important people, such as delegates to the Party Congress….
      “Contradictions among the people, and how to resolve this problem, is a new problem. Historically, Marx and Engels said very little about this problem, and though Lenin referred to it, he only just referred to it. He said that in a socialist society antagonisms died away, but contradictions continued to exist; in other words … the bourgeoisie had been overthrown, but there continued to be contradictions among the people. [Thus] Lenin said there were still contradictions among the people, [but] he didn’t have time to analyze this problem systematically. As for antagonism, can contradictions among the people be transformed from non-antagonistic to antagonistic contradictions? It must be said that they can, but in Lenin’s day there was as yet no possibility of investigating this problem in detail. There was so little time allotted to him. Of course, after the October Revolution, during the period when Stalin was in charge, for a long time he mixed up these two types of contradictions.”
      —“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People” (Speaking Notes), (Feb. 27, 1957). Quoted in TMT, p. 151-2. Alternative version below.

      “The problem of eliminating counterrevolutionaries is a problem of the first type of contradiction [i.e., between the enemy and ourselves]. Speaking comparatively, in the last analysis how has our country handled the work of eliminating counterrevolutionaries? Poorly or well? In my view there have been shortcomings, but in comparison with other countries we have done relatively well. Better than the Soviet Union, better than Hungary. The Soviet Union was too leftist, Hungary was too rightist. We have drawn a lesson from this; it’s not that we’re especially clever. Because the Soviet Union has been too left, we have learned something from that experience. We ourselves have committed leftist excesses, too. During the period of the southern base areas, when we were still rather ignorant, we suffered losses and every base area without exception used the same Soviet method. Later [we] put things right, and only then did we gain experience. In Yan’an [we] finally enacted some rules. Not a single person was to be killed and the bulk [of offenders] were not to be arrested. Once in Beijing [i.e., after the 1949 Communist victory] there were some improvements, though naturally there are still shortcomings, errors. Still, by now progress has been made. Compared with the Soviet Union, it is two lines [i.e., two different lines on this were followed. –Ed.] (this refers to the past, not the present, namely the time when Stalin was in power; he did things badly). There were two sides to him. One side was the elimination of true counterrevolutionaries; that was the correct side. The other side was the incorrect killing of numerous people, important people. For example, a high percentage of delegates to the Communist Party [National] Congress were killed. How many in the Central Committee did he kill? He sized and killed 80 percent of the Seventeenth Party Congress delegates, and he seized and killed 50 percent of the Central Committee members elected at the Seventeenth Congress [in 1934].”
      —“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People” (Speaking Notes), (Feb. 27, 1957), SSCM, pp. 141-2, and footnote 11. An alternate translation of some of this passage is given above.

      “[We] should affirm that contradictions in socialist society exist; these are basic kinds of contradictions, namely, contradictions between the relations of production and the forces of production, [and] contradictions between the superstructure and the economic base. These contradictions all appear as contradictions among the people. Because at this time socialist society does not have exploiters, the system of ownership is that of the whole people or collective [ownership]; there are no private capitalists, no private landowners, no private factory owners [or] enterprise owners. Therefore Stalin, we say that Stalin was somewhat deficient in dialectics, but [not that he] was without dialectics. In the People’s Daily editorial we said he partially but seriously turned [his] back on dialectical materialism. That’s what [we] said. Under his influence a book was written, called A Concise Dictionary of Philosophy, written by two men. Of the two, one is the Soviet Ambassador [Pavel] Yudin. It [was written] under Stalin’s influence, [and] in the context of discussing identity—he had a topic called identity on which he rambled on and on—[he] refuted formal logical identity, [but] failed completely to analyze clearly whether formal logical identity and dialectical identity are the same thing or not. Then [he] quoted Engels to say, Engels said there is no such identity, in reality everything exists in change, in objective reality there is no such identity. Then he brought up some metaphysics; he says things in opposition, mutually repellent opposites, cannot be said to have identity. For example, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, these two classes in a single society, they have no identity, have only mutual rejection, have only struggle. War and peace have no identity; life and death have no identity. To say these things have identity is a mistaken concept [he said]. After Stalin died, Soviet philosophers, the Soviet Union began to change on this question. I haven’t read much, but I can see they have changed. In philosophy Stalin had a rather metaphysical outlook. The so-called metaphysical outlook [means that things] have no change, war is war, the bourgeoisie is the bourgeoisie, the proletariat is the proletariat. Our theory is different: The bourgeoisie becomes the proletariat; the oppressed proletariat transform into the proletariat which rules the nation. War turns into peace, peace turns into war, life turns into death, death turns into life. In the midst of identity, after quoting what Engels said (what Engels said had no metaphysics), he [Stalin, or Yudin, et al., representing Stalin] brought up a piece of metaphysics, these two things short of change cannot have unity, cannot be transformable, but [elsewhere] Stalin in his book on economics said socialism has contradictions, between productive forces and productive relations, [and] moreover [that] if [the two] are not handled well, they can become antagonistic. This is well said; nonetheless it is not thorough. I say his dialectics are bashful dialectics, are coy dialectics, or could be called hesitant dialectics. As we look at this question now, we should recognize socialism contains contradictions; the basic contradiction is the contradiction between relations of production and productive forces. The ideologies of the superstructure (politics, law, religion, philosophy, these various ideologies) should serve the economic base; [they] should match the economic base. If [they] do not match [it], then contradictions emerge.”
      —Ibid., SSCM, pp. 163-164. (This seems to be from the verbatim report of Mao’s speech, which explains its somewhat rough nature at times.)

      “Can senior cadres be criticized? [On] this problem of criticism, from Marx onward, never once has it been said that junior and senior cadres should be distinguished, [or] said that only junior cadres can be criticized [and] senior cadres cannot be criticized…. If while you are living you receive no criticism, after you are dead, people will still criticize you. We have criticized the dead, [we have] criticized Confucius: Down with the house of Confucius! Even a man who has been dead for several thousand years, [we] still criticize! Now Confucius is a bit better. Stalin was also criticized after his death! Living people can be criticized [and] dead people can also be criticized…. After committing an error, one should always be criticized.”
      —Ibid., SSCM, p. 171.

      “Stalin was 70 percent a Marxist, 30 percent not a Marxist. [He] was 30 percent bourgeois, 70 percent Marxist.”
      —Ibid., SSCM, p. 173.

      “How [should we] look on the criticism of Stalin? We [humans] are also commodities of dual character. [This is an allusion to Marx’s comments about how commodities have the dual characteristics of use value and exchange value. –Ed.] The criticism of Stalin has a two-sided nature. One side has real benefit; one side is not good. To expose the cult of Stalin, to tear off the lid, to liberate people, this is a liberation movement; but his [i.e., Khrushchev’s] method of exposing [Stalin] is incorrect; [he] hasn’t made a good analysis, clubbing [him] to death with a single blow. On the one hand, this provoked the worldwide currents of the latter half of last year; on the other hand, it later also provoked the Hungarian and Polish incidents. But he [Stalin] had his incorrect side; although our published articles have not pointed at the [CPSU] Twentieth Congress, in fact [we’ve] talked about it. What have we discussed with the Soviet comrades face to face? About how the Stalin problem has not been handled appropriately; [we] discussed our great-nation chauvinism….”
      —Ibid., SSCM, p. 178.

      “Without the demise of the Third International, the Chinese revolution could not have succeeded. When Lenin was alive, the Third International was well led. After Lenin’s death, the leaders of the Third International were dogmatic leaders (for instance, leaders [like] Stalin, Bukharin were not that good). Only the period under Dimitrov was well led. Dimitrov’s reports were well reasoned. Of course, the Third International had [its] merits as well, for instance, helping various countries to establish a [communist] party. Later on, [however] the dogmatists paid no attention to the special features of various countries [and] blindly transplanted everything from Russia. China [for one] suffered great losses.”
      —Summary of a Talk with the Representatives of Press and Publishing Circles, (March 10, 1957), SSCM, p. 255.

      “We have some people [Communist Party members —Ed.] in the area of literature and art, but even there it is a thirty-seventy split. That is like Stalin’s committing errors; [didn’t we say that] Stalin was 30 per cent wrong and 70 per cent correct? We have [in the CP —Ed.] 30 per cent know-how, and 70 per cent ignorance. [Even] in the area of literature and art, the advantage lies outside the Communist Party.”
      —Speech at Tianjin Municipal Party Members and Cadres Meeting (March 17, 1957), WMZ2, p. 395. For another translation, see SSCM, p. 279.

      “To affirm everything we did, without analyzing it—this thing is wrong. The dogmatists of the past were just like that. Rákosi was like that, and so was Stalin. Can you say Stalin was entirely dogmatist? No, you can’t say that. This man, he did a lot of things, but he did have [some] dogmatism. This dogmatism of his influenced China, making us fail in our revolution during a certain period. If we were to do things as he bade us, we would not have been able to carry out the revolution in the later stage, and we wouldn’t be holding a meeting here. Who built the building? Not us. We wouldn’t have had the opportunity [to hold this meeting] because it would still be the government of the Kuomintang [and the] imperialists [running things in China]. Stalin had [things on] both sides; he also had [some] dogmatism—[wanting us to] transplant the [experience of the] Soviet Union in everything. We must learn from the Soviet Union. The things of the Soviet Union, both the mistakes and the achievements, are very worthy of being learned from. The slogan that we propose now is to learn from the Soviet Union’s advanced experiences. We didn’t say that we should learn from their backward experiences. When did we ever propose such a slogan? However, even though it was not proposed, some things like that came over with the [good ones] all the same, [especially] in the last seven years. Nonetheless, in general, we can’t say that we weren’t selective at all … because we have been critical of dogmatism, and the source of dogmatism comes from Stalin.”
      —Ibid., p. 401. Mátyás Rákosi was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Hungary at the time of Hungarian Uprising in 1956. For another translation, see SSCM, pp. 287-8.

      “It is good to have criticism. It would not be good to have no criticism, or to suppress criticism. It is this mistake that Stalin committed. Stalin did a lot of good things, but he also did some bad things. He confused the two; he used the methods that are for dealing with the enemy to deal with the people, with contradictions among the people. He wouldn’t let people say bad things about the government, or about the Communist Party; if you said anything bad or if there were any rustling in the air, any movement in the grass, he would say that you were a spy and have you arrested.”
      —Speech at [a] Conference of Members and Cadres of Provincial-Level Organizations of [the] CPC in Shandong (March 18, 1957), WMZ2, pp. 419-420. For a different translation, see SSCM, p. 308.

      “Of course what happens abroad also affects us. The Twentieth Congress [of the CPSU] which criticized Stalin, the incidents in Poland and Hungary, the worldwide anti-Soviet and anti-communist agitation, the speeches of Tito and Kardelj (have the Shandong newspapers carried this article?), all this has caused confusion in people’s thinking.”
      —Talk at the Conference of Party Member Cadres of Shandong Provincial Organs, (March 18, 1957), SSCM, p. 299. Kardelj was the Vice President of Yugoslavia.

      “[We] must clearly distinguish the two types of contradiction. The first type, contradictions between ourselves and the enemy, should not be mixed up with the second type, contradictions among the people. That there are contradictions in socialist society, that contradictions persist in socialist society, this is something Lenin once pointed out. He recognized that there were contradictions in socialist society. During the first years of Stalin’s leadership, the period following the death of Lenin, domestic life in the Soviet Union was still quite lively and not very different from ours today. There, too, were different parties, different factions, and well-known personages such as Trotsky. Trotsky had many followers, but he was perhaps only a democratic personage within the Communist party.”
      —On Ideological Work (Talk at a Conference Attended by Party Cadres from PLA Units under the Nanjing Command and from Jiangsu and Anhui Provinces), (March 19, 1957), SSCM, pp. 326-7.

      “We must distinguish clearly between the two categories of contradictions. The first category, of contradictions between the enemy and ourselves, cannot be confused with the second category, of contradictions among the people. On the subject of the socialist society, [we must recognize that] it does have contradictions, and contradictions do exist [in it]. Lenin once made a directive on this point. He recognized that there are contradictions in socialist society. In the beginning, Stalin—in the period immediately after Lenin’s death—[allowed for] a relative liveliness and activity in the domestic life in the Soviet Union. It was somewhat like what we have now [in our country]. They had all sorts of [political] parties and factions, even some well-known people like Trotsky. He had many people [with him], but he was sort of like a democratic personage within the Communist Party. Moreover, he played the role of a cheeky troublemaker and made trouble for us. There were also quite some other people in the society who were allowed to say all sorts of things, including criticizing the government. There was such a period. Then later, things didn’t work. Furthermore, things became very dictatorial. [Stalin] would not allow for criticism. He was afraid of people who wanted to criticize, of letting a hundred flowers bloom. He would only allow for the blooming of fragrant flowers. He was afraid also of letting a hundred schools contend. At the slightest hint of suspicion, he would say that it was a counterrevolutionary [incident] and would have people arrested or executed. This is to confuse the two types of contradictions, to mistake the contradictions among the people for contradictions between the enemy and ourselves. Your Comrade Xu Jiatun of Nanjing said many students came to submit petitions to him. Their ranks, [he said,] were very orderly. [Your] provincial governor, Peng Chong, also said that they were very well disciplined. Along the way they have been very good. When they got to his place, as soon as they got in the door, they yelled ‘Down with bureaucratism’ and wanted certain problems resolved. In regard to these problems, as I see it, if these were brought in front of Stalin, I think a few people would have been arrested, and a few heads would surely have rolled. You call for the downfall of bureaucratism; is that not counterrevolution? In fact there was not a single counterrevolutionary; [all of them] were very good students. Moreover, that problem [indeed] ought to be resolved; there is indeed a bit of bureaucratism. This is because without the disturbance created by those overseas Chinese students, the problem was not well resolved.”
      —“On the Problem of Ideological Work” (March 20, 1957), WMZ2, pp. 439-440. This is probably a different version of the same speech as in the previous item, which would mean that either the date there (March 19th) or the date here is wrong. Apparently the “overseas Chinese students” Mao referred to here meant students who either returned from abroad, or else students from overseas Chinese families, who were studying in China.

      “Are there contradictions in socialist society? Lenin once spoke on such a problem, and his opinion was that contradictions would exist [in a socialist society]. Stalin, however, over a long period of time, in fact did not acknowledge that there would be contradictions in a socialist society. In Stalin’s later stages, people were not allowed to say bad things, or to criticize the Party or the government. In fact, what Stalin did was to confuse the contradictions among the people with the contradictions between the enemy and ourselves. He considered everyone who said bad things [about the Party] and gossiped [about the Party] as an enemy, and therefore [he] unjustly wronged many people. In the book ‘Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR,’ written in 1952, Stalin himself said that in socialist society there would be contradictions between the relations of production and the forces of production. Moreover, [he said] if [the contradictions] are not properly resolved, they can be transformed into antagonistic [contradictions]. Even so, Stalin said very little about the contradictions internal to socialist society, or the contradictions among the people. I believe that we should, today, openly discuss this problem, not only inside the Party, but we should also make this problem clear in the newspapers, and draw appropriate conclusions; that would be better.”
      —Speech at a CPC Cadres Meeting in Shanghai (March 20, 1957), WMZ2, pp. 465-6. Alternative translation is in SSCM, pp. 352-3.

      “XXX wouldn’t sign the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance. It was not until the Chinese scolded and the British lent a hand that it was done.”
      —Interjections at a Meeting During the Qingdao Conference (July 20, 1957), WMZ2, p. 647. The “XXX” name here (which was blocked out in the Red Guard collection), almost certainly refers to Stalin.

      “The Resolution of the Eighth Party Congress declared that the primary contradiction is that between the advanced social system and the backward forces of production, but we cannot reason this way. Today there are contradictions, and in the future there will still be contradictions. When the cooperatives have all been transformed into state farms that pay wages, there will still be contradictions. Socialism is composed of two sectors: the system of public ownership and the system of collective ownership. In the future, contradictions will also arise between the two. The socialist system and the forces of production basically conform to each other, but there are still areas that do not conform completely; there are still shortcomings; [thus] to speak of perfect conformity is incorrect. Once Stalin mentioned complete conformity, problems emerged….”
      —Speech at the Third Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee (Oct. 7, 1957), WMZ2, p. 692. This is a reference to Stalin’s views about the conformity of the relations of production to the forces of production as presented in his works Dialectical and Historical Materialism and Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR. In a footnote the editors of this collection of Mao’s writings (John K. Leung & Michael Y. M. Kau) comment, in part:

“The criticism made by Mao in this passage is laden with Marxist theory-interpretation significance. The key lies in what Mao thought of the relations of production in the phase of socialist transition. The position that Stalin took (as Mao read it) appeared to be that in the Soviet system during the socialist phase, the relations of production, as part of the ‘system’ of socialism (and part of the superstructure) are basically in conformity with the proletarianized forces of production. This becomes a criterion by which the conclusion can be drawn that through the transformation of the system (from a capitalist-dominated one to a sovietized one) the socialist transition has already been basically achieved. What remains to be done would be to focus on developing the forces of production, on the one hand, and to deal with those remnants of the superstructure (ideology, education, laws, etc.) that are yet partially inconsistent with the sovietized system, on the other. In Mao’s view, this, joined with the ‘revisionist’ idea that the primary contradiction was the one between the backward forces of production and an already advanced social system, would give rise to what is labeled as the wei shengchanli lun (‘forces of production above all theory’), which focuses only on development and expansion of the forces of production, with little or no attention at all to continuing the struggle to transform the relations of production. Mao himself believed that the stage of socialist transition is a stage of revolution, not just a stage of peaceful, material expansion and development. In this phase, Mao believed, the struggle is to be concentrated on the transformation of the relations of production. Moreover, Mao tended to see the relations of production as part of the economic base. Thus he believed that, owing to the continued bourgeois influence in society (and in the economic system) during the stage of socialist revolution and transition, there was as yet an inconsistency (or contradiction) within the economic base itself that needed to be struggled over. It was therefore not merely an issue of contradiction between the superstructure and the base, but a twofold contradiction, one between the superstructure and the base, and the other in the base itself.” [WMZ2, pp. 694-5.]

      “Incidentally, let me talk a bit here about where our opinions differ from those of the Soviet Union. First of all, on the question of Stalin, we have contradictions with Khrushchev. He made Stalin appear so terrible! We do not agree with that, because he was made to appear so ugly! This is not a matter for their country alone; it is a matter that concerns all countries. We hang Stalin’s portrait outside our Tiananmen; this is in accord with the wishes of the laboring people of the whole world, and it demonstrates our basic differences with Khrushchev. As for Stalin himself, you should also give him [an evaluation of] 30 per cent [bad] and 70 per cent [good]. Stalin’s achievements count for 70 per cent; his mistakes count for 30 per cent. Even this may not be accurate; [his] mistakes may only be 20 per cent or perhaps only 10 per cent, or perhaps a little more than [20 per cent]. In any case, Stalin’s achievements are primary while his shortcomings and mistakes are secondary. On this point we and Khrushchev hold differing opinions.”
      —Speech at the Conclusion of the Third Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee (Oct. 9, 1957), version I, WMZ2, p. 707.

      “I think that our declaration is good. We used a very good method to attain our goal, and that is the method of consulting [one another and talking things over. The declaration] upholds the sense of principle and yet has flexibility; it is a unity of principle and flexibility. Thus, an atmosphere of consultation has now been formed, whereas in the last stages of Stalin[‘s time] that was impossible. We have not forcibly imposed anything on anybody. It is not good to adopt a method of forcible imposition [in matters] among the people, especially among comrades. We have now replaced the method of suppression with the method of persuasion.”
      —Speech at the Congress of Communist Parties and Workers’ Parties in the Socialist Countries (Nov. 16, 1957), WMZ2, p. 771. Mao was in the Soviet Union from Nov. 2 to Nov. 21, 1957; this excerpt is from one of several speeches he made while there.

      “Stalin led the [Communist] Party of the Soviet Union in accomplishing great works. His achievements are primary, and [his] shortcomings and mistakes are secondary. However, over a long period of time, he did develop metaphysics and damage dialectics. The personality cult was metaphysics; no one was permitted to criticize him. As I see it, the forty years of the Soviet Union are a dialectical process [in themselves]. There were Lenin’s dialectics, [and then with] Stalin there were many metaphysical viewpoints. Some [of these] viewpoints were enacted, and when they reached a point of extreme, they were bound to move toward their opposite, and bring back dialectics again. I am very happy that XXXXXX said, at the commemorative celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution, that contradictions do exist in socialist society. I am very glad that the philosophical circles in the Soviet Union have produced many articles that discuss the internal contradictions in socialist society. These articles also discussed the problem of the contradictions between socialism and capitalism; these are problems of contradictions of two different types altogether.”
      —Speech at the Congress of Communist Parties and Workers’ Parties in Socialist Countries (Nov. 18, 1957), WMZ2, p. 792. Despite the identical title, this is a different speech from the one in the previous quotation. “XXXXXX” represents 6 Chinese characters deleted from the Red Guard text which probably stood for “Comrade Khrushchev”.

      [Stuart Schram writing:] “When he [Mao] visited Moscow for the second time, in November 1957 to attend the conference of Communist and workers’ parties, Mao remarked that he still had a ‘belly full of pent-up anger, mainly directed against Stalin’, though he would not elaborate on the reasons, because it was all in the past. He then proceeded, in characteristic fashion, to do precisely that: ‘During the Stalin era, nobody dared to speak up. I have come to Moscow twice and the first time was depressing. Despite all the talk about ‘fraternal parties’ there was really no equality.’ Now, he said, we ‘must admit that our Soviet comrades’ style of work has changed a lot.’”
      —Nov. 1957. Quoted in TMT, p. 152.

      “The newspapers need leadership, but the leadership has to be correct. [It must] conform to the objective situation. Those who do not conform to the objective condition must be criticized. Marxism-Leninism handles things according to the [appropriate] conditions, and furthermore, it pays attention to objective effect. Why did the Chinese Revolution meet with success? It was because the Third International was dissolved; otherwise [the Chinese Revolution] could not achieve success. Some leaders ruin things because they do not conform to the situation. It is only because Lenin refused to recognize the Second International that the October Revolution achieved success. The Second International was revisionist, and the Third International was very good at the beginning, but it became dogmatist later. Among the leaders of [the Third International,] Stalin and Bukharin were not very good. Dimitrov was a very good leader because, first, he opposed fascism and second, he emphasized internationalism.”
      —Directive on Journalism Work (1957), WMZ2, pp. 805-6.

      “The Eighth Congress spoke of the contradiction between the advanced social system and the backward forces of production. That was [in reference to] a matter of the forces of production, not to a matter of the relationship among human beings. The problem of the relations of production among human beings has already been [basically] resolved, but has not been completely resolved (see page 4 of the document of the Eighth Congress). [As for the question that is] proposed—whether or not the socialist system is conducive to the development of the forces of production, our answer [to this question is that it] is generally conducive. Stalin thinks that [the socialist system] is completely conducive to [the development of the forces of production]; there are problems with that. In the future, a number of years from now, when the forces of production have been developed, there will [still] be some contradictions between the system of collective ownership and the development of the [forces of] production. Right now the relations of production are conducive [to the development of the forces of production]. How do we know they are conducive? [The basic fact is that] the cooperatives have [promoted the] development of production! When we compare our system with India, India increased steel production by three million tons in its first five-year plan, and we increased ours by four million tons. Can you say our system is not good? Our relations of production are basically conducive to the development of the forces of production, but there are still some shortcomings. Several decades from now, when the forces of production have developed, the law of value will become useless, and there will be no need for currency.”
      —“On the Question of the Primary Contradiction in the Transitional Period” (1957), WMZ2, p. 812.

      “Even in 1949 when we were about to cross the Yangtze River, someone [emphasis added] still wanted to prevent us. According to him we should under no circumstances cross the Yangtze. If we did so America would send troops to China and become directly involved in China’s Civil War and the South and North dynasties would reappear in China.
      “I did not listen to what they [sic] said. We crossed the Yangtze. America did not send troops to China and there were no South and North dynasties. If we really had followed his words surely there would be a situation of South and North dynasties.
      “Later on I met that person who intended to prevent us from crossing the Yangtze. His first words in our conversation were: ‘The victor bears no blame.’
      “I had not listened to him. As a result he not only did not blame me. On the contrary, he recognized me as the victor. It is very important that one should analyze and solve problems on one’s own and always seek truth from facts.”
      —Mao’s comments in 1957, as recorded by Wang Fangming of Beijing People’s University, People’s Daily, Jan. 2, 1979. English translation in NE, p. 15. The “someone” referred to was of course Stalin.

      “Internationally we should be on friendly terms with the Soviet Union, all the people’s democracies and the communist parties and working classes of all nations; we should pay proper attention to internationalism, and learn from the good points of the Soviet Union and other foreign countries. This a principle. But there are two methods of learning: one is merely to imitate, and the other is to apply the creative spirit. Learning should be combined with creativity. To import Soviet codes and conventions inflexibly is to lack the creative spirit.
      “From its foundation up to the Northern Expedition (from 1921 to 1927) our Party was comparatively lively, even allowing for Ch’en Tu-hsiu’s bourgeois ideology dressed up as Marxism. We founded our Party in the third year following the victory of the October Revolution. Those who founded the Party were all young people who had participated in the May Fourth Movement and been influenced by it. After the October Revolution, while Lenin was still alive, while the class struggle was very acute and Stalin had still not come to power, they too were full of life. The origin of Ch’en Tu-hsiu-ism lay in foreign social democracy and our native bourgeoisie. During this period, though there occurred the mistakes of Ch’en Tu-hsiu-ism, generally speaking there was no dogmatism.
      “From the beginning of the Civil War period up to the Tsunyi Conference (from 1927 to 1935) three separate ‘leftist’ lines arose in the Chinese Party, and the one from 1934 to 1935 was the worst. At that time the Soviet Union had won victory over the Trotskyites, though on the theoretical plane they had only defeated the Deborin school. The Chinese ‘left’ opportunists had nearly all been influenced while in the Soviet Union. Of course, this is not to say that all those who went to Moscow were dogmatists. Among the many who were in the Soviet Union at the time, some were dogmatists, others were not; some were in touch with reality, others had no contact with reality but saw only foreign conditions. What is more, Stalin’s rule was beginning to be consolidated (it became firmly consolidated after the purge of counter-revolutionaries). The Comintern at that time was [run by] Bukharin, Pikov and Zinoviev, while the head of the Eastern Bureau was Kuusinen and the head of the Far East Department was Mif. XXX [Kuusinen?] was a good comrade, humane, creative, but a bit too nice a chap. Mif’s influence was the greater. These were the conditions which enabled dogmatism to develop, and some Chinese comrades were influenced by it too. At that time Wang Ming and others set themselves up as the so-called ’28 ½ Bolsheviks’. When several hundred were studying in the Soviet Union, how was it that there were only 28 ½? It was because they were so terribly ‘left’ that they became self-restricting and isolated, thus reducing the Party’s contacts.”
      —“Talks at the Chengtu Conference” (March 1958): Talk of March 10th, CMTTP, pp. 96-97. Ch’en Tu-hsiu (1879-1942) was the head of the CPC from its founding in 1921 until the disaster of 1927 when Chiang Kai-shek turned on and murdered thousands of communists.

      “Having cleared away blind faith, we no longer have any spiritual burdens. Buddhas are made several times life-size in order to frighten people. When heroes and warriors appear on the stage they are made to look quite unlike ordinary people. Stalin was that kind of person. The Chinese people had got so used to being slaves that they seemed to want to go on. When Chinese artists painted pictures of me together with Stalin, they always made me a little bit shorter, thus blindly knuckling under to the moral pressure exerted by the Soviet Union at that time. Marxism-Leninism looks at everyone on equal terms, and all people should be treated as equals.”
      —Ibid., p. 99. [I’ve read that Mao was 5 feet, 8 inches tall—quite tall for a Chinese man of his era—though some Internet sources say he was even taller. According to the CelebHeights.com website, Stalin was only 5 feet, 6 inches tall, though some sources say he was even shorter. In any case, it seems that Mao was actually noticeably taller than Stalin. —Ed.]

      “Khrushchev’s complete demolition of Stalin at one blow was also a kind of pressure, and the majority of people within the Chinese Party did not agree with it. Others wished to submit to this pressure and do away with the cult of the individual. There are two kinds of cult of the individual. One is correct, such as that of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the correct side of Stalin. These we ought to revere and continue to revere for ever. It would not do not to revere them. As they held truth in their hands, why should we not revere them? We believe in truth; truth is the reflection of objective existence. A squad should revere its squad leader; it would be quite wrong not to. Then there is the incorrect kind of cult of the individual in which there is no analysis, simply blind obedience. This is not right. Opposition to the cult of the individual may also have one of two aims: one is opposition to an incorrect cult, and the other is opposition to reverence for others and desire for reverence for oneself. The question at issue is not whether or not there should be a cult of the individual, but rather whether or not the individual concerned represents the truth. If he does, then he should be revered. If truth is not present, even collective leadership will be no good. Throughout its history, our Party has stressed the combination of the role of the individual with collective leadership. When Stalin was demolished some people applauded for their own personal reasons, that is to say because they wanted others to revere them.”
      —Ibid., pp. 99-100.

      “When Stalin was criticized in 1956, we were on the one hand happy, but on the other hand apprehensive. It was completely necessary to remove the lid, to break down blind faith, to release the pressure, and to emancipate thought. But we did not agree with demolishing him at one blow. They do not hang up his picture, but we do. In 1950 I argued with Stalin in Moscow for two months. On the questions of the Treaty of Mutual Assistance, the Chinese Eastern Railway, the joint-stock companies and the border we adopted two attitudes: one was to argue when the other side made proposals we did not agree with, and the other was to accept their proposal if they absolutely insisted. This was out of consideration for the interests of socialism. Then there were the two ‘colonies’, that is the North-East and Sinkiang [Xinjiang], where people of any third country were not allowed to reside. Now this has been rescinded. After the criticism of Stalin, the victims of blind faith had their eyes opened a bit. In order that our comrades recognize that the old ancestor [Stalin] also had his faults, we should apply analysis to him, and not have blind faith in him. We should accept everything good in Soviet experience, and reject what is bad. Now we are a bit more skilful in this, and understand the Soviet Union a bit better, and understand ourselves.
      —Ibid., p. 101. In the 1950 treaty Stalin insisted on the creation of joint-stock companies in Xinjiang to develop oil and metal production. This continued the Soviet economic exploitation of the area that had already begun under the Nationalist regime. The USSR also kept control, for a time, of two important military bases in Manchuria and de facto control of the Chinese Eastern Railway which (among other things) was used to transport military supplies to those bases. A secret protocol to the 1950 treaty prohibited the Chinese from allowing citizens of any third country to participate in trade or industry in Xinjiang or Manchuria. —Ed.

      “The Chinese revolution won victory by acting contrary to Stalin’s will. The fake foreign devil [in Lu Hsun’s True Story of Ah Q] ‘did not allow people to make revolution’. But our Seventh Congress advocated going all out to mobilize the masses and to build up all available revolutionary forces in order to establish a new China. During the quarrel with Wang Ming from 1937 to August 1938, we put forward ten great policies, while Wang Ming produced sixty policies. If we had followed Wang Ming’s, or in other words Stalin’s methods the Chinese revolution couldn’t have succeeded. When our revolution succeeded, Stalin said it was a fake. We did not argue with him, and as soon as we fought the war to resist America and aid Korea, our revolution became a genuine one [in his eyes].”
      —Ibid., pp. 102-3.

      “We must respect the classics but we must not follow them blindly. Marxism was itself created, not copied or lifted straight from books. On this point Stalin was relatively good. The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union says in its conclusion: ‘Particular points of Marxist principle which are not in accord with reason may be changed, such as the principle that one country cannot be victorious.’ [Referring to the abandonment of the previous doctrine that socialism cannot be victorious in a single country. —Ed.] …
      “Once we give in to blind faith our minds become cramped and our thought cannot burst out of its confinement. Unless you have a conquering spirit it is very dangerous to study Marxism-Leninism. Stalin could be said to have had this spirit, though it became tarnished. The Leninist foundation of his writing on linguistics and economics was relatively correct—basically correct. But there are some issues worth studying, for example the role of the theory of value in the socialist stage.”
      —“Talks at the Chengtu Conference” (March 1958): Talk of March 22nd, CMTTP, p. 115.

      “The Chinese revolution achieved victory against Stalin’s will. Imitation foreign devils did not permit us to carry out the revolution [to the end].”
      —Speech at the Conference in Hankou (April 6, 1958), quoted in UP, p. 298. The term “imitation foreign devil” comes from a novel by the famous revolutionary writer Lu Xun [Lu Hsun] where one Chinese individual who refused to allow others to revolt was called that.

      “This Comrade Stalin of ours had something of the flavor of the mandarins of old… In the past, the relations between us and the Soviet Union were those between father and son, cat and mouse.”
      —April, 1958. Quoted in TMT, p. 154.

      “I would like to ask that the book, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin on Communism (Stalin didn’t do very well), be printed in every province and widely distributed for everyone to read. It’s very enlightening, although there are still some inadequacies, because of the limitations imposed by conditions in [the authors’] times. They had little experience, so naturally their views are vague and inexplicit. Don’t think the ancestors all fart fragrantly and fart no foul farts. [When you] talk about the future, there must inevitably be some vague spots.”
      —Talks at the Beidaihe Conference (Draft Transcript) (Aug. 17-30, 1958), SSCM, p. 441.

      “Provincial and regional committees must study this book [Stalin’s Economic Problems of the Socialism in the USSR]. In the past everyone read it without gaining a deep impression. It should be studied in conjunction with China’s actual circumstances. The first three chapters contain much that is worth paying attention to, much that is correct, although there are places where perhaps Stalin himself did not make things clear enough. For example, in chapter 1 he says only a few things about objective laws and how to go about planning the economy, without unfolding his ideas; or, it may be that to his mind Soviet planning of the economy already reflected objective governing principles. On the question of heavy industry, light industry, and agriculture, the Soviet Union did not lay enough emphasis on the latter two and had losses as a result. In addition, they did not do a good job of combing the immediate and the long-term interests of the people. In the main they walked on one leg. Comparing the planning, which of us after all had the better adapted ‘planned proportionate development?’ Another point: Stalin emphasized only technology, technical cadre. He wanted nothing but technology, nothing but cadre; no politics, no masses. This too is walking on one leg! And in industry they walk on one leg when they pay attention to heavy industry but not to light industry. Furthermore, they did not point out the main aspects of the contradictions in the relationships among departments of heavy industry. They exaggerated the importance of heavy industry, claiming that steel was the foundation, machinery the heart and soul. Our position is that grain is the mainstay of agriculture, steel of industry, and that if steel and is taken as the mainstay, then once we have the raw material the machine industry will follow along. Stalin raised questions in chapter 1: he suggested the objective governing principles, but he failed to provide satisfactory answers.
      “In chapter 2 he discusses commodities, in chapter 3 the law of value. Relatively speaking, I favor many of the views expressed. To divide production into two major departments and to say that the means of production are not commodities—these points deserve study. In Chinese agriculture there are still many means of production that should be commodities. My view is that the last of the three appended letters [appendices to Stalin’s pamphlet] is entirely wrong. It expresses a deep uneasiness, a belief that the peasantry cannot be trusted to release agricultural machinery but would hang on to it. On the one hand Stalin says that the means of production belong to state ownership. On the other, he says that the peasants cannot afford them. The fact is that he is deceiving himself. The state controlled the peasantry very, very tightly, inflexibly. For the two transitions Stalin failed to find the proper ways and means, a vexing matter for him. [The “two transitions” are 1) from collective ownership (such as in the People’s Communes) to ownership by the whole people (state ownership, with the peasants transformed into farm workers); and 2) from a socialist distribution system (“to each according to his work”) to a communist distribution system (“to each according to his need”). —Ed.]
      “Capitalism leaves behind it the commodity form, which we must still retain for the time being. Commodity exchange laws governing value play no regulating role in our production. This role is played by planning, by the great leap forward under planning, by politics-in-command. Stalin speaks only of the production relations, not of the superstructure, nor of the relationship between superstructure and economic base. Chinese cadres participate in production; workers participate in management. Sending cadres down to lower levels to be tempered, discarding old rules and regulations—all these pertain to the superstructure, to ideology. Stalin mentions economics only, not politics. He may speak of selfless labor, but in reality even an extra hour’s labor is begrudged. There is no selflessness at all. The role of people, the role of the laborer—these are not mentioned. If there were no communist movement it is hard to imagine making the transition to communism. ‘All people are for me, I for all people.’ [Perhaps this should be translated: “All for one and one for all.” —Ed.] This does not belong. It ends up with everything being connected to the self. Some say Marx said it. If he did let’s not make propaganda out of it. ‘All people for me,’ means everybody for me, the individual. ‘I am for all.’ Well, how many can you be for?”
      —“Concerning Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR” (Nov. [9], 1958), CSE, pp. 129-31. For an alternate translation see below and SSCM, pp. 461-5.

      “With respect to socialism and communism, what is meant by constructing socialism? We raise two points: (1) The concentrated manifestation of constructing socialism is making socialist, all-embracing public ownership [ownership by the whole people] a reality. (2) Constructing socialism means turning commune collective ownership into public ownership. Some comrades disapprove of drawing the line between these two types of ownership system, as if the communes were completely publicly owned. In reality there are two systems. One type is public ownership, as in the Anshan Iron and Steel Works, the other is commune-large collective ownership. If we do not raise this, what is the use of socialist construction? Stalin drew the line when he spoke of three conditions. These three basic conditions make sense and may be summarized as follows: increase social output; raise collective ownership to public ownership; go from exchange of commodities to exchange of products, from exchange value to use value.
      “…Stalin was speaking of culture when he proposed the three conditions, the physical development and education of the whole people. For this he proposed four conditions: (a) six hours’ work per day; (b) combining technical education with work; (c) improving residential conditions; (d) raising wages. Raising wages and lowering prices are particularly helpful here, but the political conditions are missing.”
      —Ibid., p. 133.

      “Stalin’s book [Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR] from first to last says nothing about the superstructure. It is not concerned with people; it considers things, not people. Does the kind of supply system for consumer goods help spur economic development or not? He should have touched on this at the least. Is it better to have commodity production or is it better not to? Everyone has to study this. Stalin’s point of view in his last letter [appendix to his pamphlet] is almost altogether wrong. The basic error is mistrust of the peasants.
      “Parts of the first, second, and third chapters are correct; other parts could have been clearer. For example, the discussion on planned economy is not complete. The rate of development of the Soviet economy is not high enough, although it is faster than the capitalists’ rate. Relations between agriculture and industry, as well as between light and heavy industry, are not clearly explained.
      “It looks as if they have had serious losses. The relationship between long- and short-term interests has not seen any spectacular developments. They walk on one leg, we walk on two. They believe that technology decides everything, that cadres decide everything, speaking only of ‘expert,’ never of ‘red,’ only of the cadres, never of the masses. This is walking on one leg. As far as heavy industry goes, they have failed to find the primary contradiction, calling steel the foundation, machinery the heart and innards, coal the food…. For us steel is the mainstay, the primary contradiction in industry, while foodgrains are the mainstay in agriculture. Other things develop proportionally.
      “In the first chapter he discusses grasping the laws, but without proposing a method. On commodity production and the law of value he has a number of views that we approve of ourselves, but there are problems as well. Limiting commodity production to the means of subsistence is really rather doubtful. Mistrust of the peasants is the basic viewpoint of the third letter. Essentially Stalin did not discover a way to make the transition from collective to public ownership. Commodity production and exchange are forms we have kept, while in connection with the law of value we must speak of planning and at the same time politics-in-command. They speak only of the production relations, not of the superstructure nor politics, nor the role of the people. Communism cannot be reached unless there is a communist movement.”
      —“Critique of Stalin’s Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR”, CSE, pp. 135-6. This document seems to be a different report of Mao’s speech “Concerning Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR” (Nov. 1958), which is excerpted above. In this version there follows 33 specific comments on particular passages in Stalin’s pamphlet, most at least partly critical. The opening comments above are a fairly good summation of all these specific comments.

      “One has to look at the things Stalin wrote [on the economics of socialism]. His strong point is that he alone talks about a socialist economy, but his greatest shortcoming is that he sets up a rigid framework, saying that the kolkhozy [Soviet collective farms —Ed.] are willing to exchange commodities but won’t go for allocations [of goods and capital by planning authorities]. This was because [he] did not want uninterrupted revolution, but wanted to consolidate the socialist order. The Russian peasants cannot be that selfish; it cannot be that they don’t want uninterrupted revolution. Russia has built up a socialist order, but this type of order cannot be consolidated. With us it’s the other way round. We disrupt a part of the socialist order; the supply system [i.e., payment in kind] is what disrupts that order.”
      —Talks at the First Zhengzhou Conference (Nov. 6-10, 1958), Talk of Nov. 6th, SSCM, p. 444. (This is another translation of the talks excerpted above from A Critique of Soviet Economics.)

      “This transition [to the completion of socialism] seemed immensely difficult to Stalin and he didn’t set a deadline [specifying] how many years would be needed. This is the first transition [i.e., that from collective ownership to ownership by the whole people]. The second transition is that from ‘To each according to his work’ to ‘To each according to his need.’…
      “In the womb of the mother is the baby, and socialism contains the sprouts of communism. Stalin failed to see this dialectical law.”
      —Talks at the First Zhengzhou Conference (Nov. 6-10, 1958), Talk of Nov. 6th, SSCM, pp. 445-6.

      “The Soviet collective villages don’t engage in industry; they only do agriculture, and agriculture, furthermore, that goes with planting large areas and [garnering] small harvests. That’s why they don’t manage to make the transition. Soviet socialism has collective ownership and ownership of the whole people. Stalin’s transition to communism was hardly possible; there was no transition to the ownership by the whole people; he did not promote the elements of communism at all, split heavy and light industry, and openly advocated putting but small emphasis on the production of consumer goods. Various differences became greater.
      “[We] have to reread Stalin’s Economic Problems of Socialism and look at the Collection of Articles on the Problem of Bourgeois Right.”
      —Ibid., SSCM, p. 448.

      “The law of value is an instrument; it only has calculating functions, but not the function of regulating production. Stalin’s writings contain a lot of good things.”
      —Ibid., SSCM, p. 453.

      “Shanxi province talks about three victories: in industry, agriculture, and ideology. That is a good slogan. Going at it by leaving out one would be like Iron Crutch Li. Neglect agriculture and you become a Stalin. Those doing agriculture must be hell-bent on doing agriculture.”
      —Ibid., SSCM, p. 469.

      “Stalin’s statement, ‘One has to study this economic law [of balanced development of the national economy], has to master it, to learn to apply it with full understanding, and to compile such plans as fully reflect the requirements of this law,’ is excellent. We still have not fully mastered this economic law nor have we learned to apply it with full understanding….
      “Stalin stops here and does not develop this question further. I have my doubts as to what level he reached in his studies. Why didn’t he walk on two legs? Why does heavy industry need so many rules and regulations?”
      —Ibid., SSCM, pp. 471-2. Mao is here continuing his discussion of Stalin’s Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR.

      “Our [sphere] of ownership by the whole people is very small; [and] only when all means of production are [thus] owned and the social product has become abundant will we be able to abolish commerce. It seems our economists have failed to understand this point. I use dead Stalin to bear down on the living. Stalin still retained his reservations on the question of the abolition of commodity production after [eventual] success of the English revolution… I’m afraid at least a part [of commodity production] can’t be abolished; Stalin, however, does not arbitrarily decide the question; he does not give a conclusion.”
      —Ibid., SSCM, p. 473.

      “(2) Planned and proportionate [development:] if steel goes up, everything else goes up, too, and the sixty-four kinds of rare metals must all be in proportion. What is proportion? At present no one among us has any idea what proportion is. I don’t know what it is; perhaps you’re a bit brighter. What planned and proportionate is has to be gradually figured out. Engels said one has to recognize objective law, master it, and apply it with full understanding. I think Stalin’s recognition [of this law] was not complete either; in [his] application [of it] there was no flexibility, and as to application with full understanding, in that [he] was even more deficient. His [handling of the relationship] between light and heavy industry was not so correct; too much emphasis on heavy industry, is like Iron Crutch Li, … At present we have achieved some proportionality, namely by walking on two legs, with heavy industry, light industry and agriculture.”
      —Talks at the Wuchang Conference (Nov. 21-23, 1958), SSCM, pp. 481-2.

      “At the Zhengzhou conference there were five criteria [put forward], [but] Shanxi had objections; the essential manifestation for the completion of the building of socialism is ownership by the whole people. That is different from what Stalin proclaimed in 1938. What does complete achievement of ownership by the whole people mean? What does completion of the building of socialism mean? Stalin’s two reports of 1936 and 1938 (the former being the report on the constitution, the latter the report to the Eighteenth Party Congress) put forward two indicators: one was the extinction of classes, and the other was that industry should occupy a 70 percent proportion [of the economy]. But [since then], the Soviet Union has gone through [another] twenty years and XXXX [probably meaning “Khrushchev”] will have another twelve years; that is after thirty-two years they will eventually make the transition, and at that time collective ownership and ownership by the whole people will finally merge. On this question, we don’t do things according to their pattern. We talk about the five criteria; and we don’t say that when industry accounts for 70 percent, that means the building [of socialism] is completed…. For us, the criterion for the completion of the building of socialism will be the unification of the systems of ownership. Everything will be owned by the whole people. We take the achievement of ownership by the whole people as the primary criterion. By this criterion, the Soviet Union has not completed the building of socialism. They still have two systems of ownership. This has given rise to a question: people all over the world ask, has the Soviet Union even now still not completed the building of socialism?”
      —Ibid., SSCM, pp. 487-8. The two systems of ownership being referred to here are cooperatives (such as the People’s Communes in China or the Collective Farms in the USSR) and state ownership.

      “In 1936, Stalin proclaimed the abolition of classes—so why in 1937 did he kill so many people, and [why were] spies so thick on the ground? I think one has to leave this question of the abolition of classes in suspense, and that it’s best not to proclaim it hastily. In the last analysis, at what time would the proclamation of the abolition of classes be most advantageous? If one does proclaim the abolition, the landlords will all be peasants, and the capitalists workers: Is that advantageous or not? The bourgeoisie are permitted to enter the people’s communes, but they must still wear their bourgeois hats; fixed interest is not abolished. In view of Stalin’s too early proclamation, one should not be hasty in proclaiming the abolition of classes, and I’m afraid one can only proclaim it when there is fundamentally no more harm in doing so. Is the abolition of classes within the Soviet intelligentsia in any way complete? In my opinion, not so.”
      —Ibid., SSCM, pp. 491-2.

      “Of course, there are periods when [commodity production] obstructs the development of production. So the statements in the Forty Points [the 12-year Agricultural Program] dealing with commodities are inappropriate; they are still written according to Stalin’s [opinions]. But Stalin did not make clear the relationship between the means of livelihood produced by state-owned [industries] and those produced by collective farms. Would you all please discuss this; it is in the third edition of [the Soviet textbook] Political Economy. As to the rest there is little to change. Thus one can repudiate only a part of Stalin’s things and should not throw them out altogether. The reason being that he is scientific, [and] to repudiate him altogether would not be good. Who was the first to write a study of the political economy of socialism? It was none other than Stalin. Of course, there are partial shortcomings and mistakes in this book. Such as in [his comments on] the third letter [where he says] agricultural machinery should not be sold to the collective farms, in order to keep a hold of the peasants’ pigtails. He laid down the rule that they should have only the right to use, but not the right of ownership; this simply [demonstrates] a lack of trust in the peasants, whereas we gave [the machinery] to the cooperatives,…”
      —Ibid., SSCM, pp. 493-4.

      [Stuart Schram writing:] “In 1960, discussing the Soviet Constitution, Mao Tse-tung said that this Constitution gave the workers the right to work, to rest, and to education, but that it gave the people no right to supervise the state, the economy, culture or education, whereas these were the most basic rights of the people under socialism.”
      —Quoted in TMT, pp. 187-8. This constitution was the one prepared under Stalin’s direct supervision, and is often called the “Stalin constitution”. For similar comments see also CSE, p. 61.

      “On page 339 [of the Soviet textbook Political Economy] it says that the land taken from the rich peasants and given to the poor and middle peasants was land the government had expropriated and then parceled out. This looks at the matter as a grant by royal favor, forgetting that class struggles and mass mobilizations had been set in motion, a right deviationist point of view. Our approach was to rely on the poor peasants, to unite with the majority of middle peasants (lower middle peasants) and seize the land from the landlord class. While the party did play a leading role, it was against doing everything itself and thus substituting for the masses. Indeed, its concrete practice was to ‘pay call on the poor to learn of their grievances,’ to identify activist elements, to strike roots and pull things together, to consolidate nuclei, to promote the voicing of grievances, and to organize the class ranks—all for the purpose of unfolding the class struggle.”
      —“Reading Notes on the Soviet Text Political Economy” (c. 1960), CSE, p. 44. Mao is explaining here the difference in the approach to land reform in China as compared with how it was done in the Soviet Union under Stalin’s leadership. Much of the rest of this document has similar implicit criticism of Stalin and his approach to collectivization.

      “Priority growth in producing the means of production is an economic rule for expanded reproduction common to all societies. If there are no priorities in producing the means of production in capitalist society there can be no expanded reproduction. In Stalin’s time, due to special emphasis on priority development of heavy industry, agriculture was neglected in the [economic] plans. Eastern Europe has had similar problems in the past few years. Our approach has been to make priority development of heavy industry the condition for putting into effect concurrent promotion of industry and agriculture, as well as some other concurrent programs….
      “The experience of the Soviet Union, no less than our own, proves that if agriculture does not develop, if light industry does not develop, it hurts the development of heavy industry.”
      —Ibid., p. 76-77.

      “In the chapter [of the Soviet textbook Political Economy] on the collective farm system there is continual discussion of individual material interest…. The present special emphasis on material interest is for a reason. In the time of Stalin there was excessive emphasis on collective interest; individual gain was neglected. The public was overemphasized, the private underemphasized. Now they have gone to the opposite extreme, overemphasizing material incentive, neglecting collective interest.”
      —Ibid., p. 94. (We believe that Mao is saying here that in the Stalin era the peasants were called upon to work hard for the public good, but that they were squeezed too hard and had little left for themselves. —Ed.)

      “The text [the Soviet textbook] speaks vaguely of the road ahead, but the moment it comes to concrete measures it loses all clarity. In many ways (mainly production) the Soviets continue to progress, but with respect to the production relations fundamentally they have ceased to progress.”
      —Ibid., p. 101. (When did the Soviets stop progressing when it came to the transformation of production relations? Mao does not explicitly say here, but the whole thrust of his reading notes seems to suggest that it was during the Stalin era itself. —Ed.)

      “In Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, Stalin offered arguments about the two world markets. The [Soviet] text here emphasizes peaceful competition between the two systems and building up ‘peacefully developing’ economic relations. This turns the actually existing two world markets into two economic systems within a unified world market—a step back from Stalin’s view.
      “Between the two economic systems there is in fact not only competition but also fierce, broad-ranging struggle, a struggle the text has kept its distance from.”
      —Ibid., p. 105.

      “[Section] 64. Criticism of Stalin
      “Stalin’s Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, like his other works, contains erroneous arguments. But the two accusations referred to on page 681 [of the Soviet textbook Political Economy] are not convincing.
      “One accusation is that Stalin held that ‘circulation of commodities seems to have already become an obstacle to the development of the productive forces. The necessity for gradually making the transition to direct exchanges of production between industry and agriculture is fully formed.’
      “In this book Stalin said that when there are two kinds of ownership system then there is commodity production. He said that in the enterprises of the collective farms, although the means of production (land, tools, etc.) belong to the state, the goods produced are all the property of the separate collectives. The reason is that the labor on the collectives (like the seeds) is owned by the collectives, while the land that the state has given them for permanent use is in fact controlled by the collectives as if it were their own property. Under such conditions ‘the collective farms are willing to release into circulation what they produce only in the commodity form, in expectation of obtaining the commodities they need in exchange. At the present time the collective farms will not enter into any economic relations other than exchange through purchase and sales.’
      “Stalin criticized the current view in the Soviet Union that advocated doing away with commodity production, holding that commodity production was no less necessary than it was thirty years earlier when Lenin declared the need for bending every effort to develop commodity circulation.
      “The [Soviet] text says that Stalin seemed to be advocating instant elimination of commodities. This accusation is difficult to make good. As to the question of commodity exchange, for Stalin it was only a hypothesis. For he had even said, ‘There is no need to promote this system with urgency; it must be decided according to the degree of accumulation of goods manufactured in the cities.’
      “Another accusation is that Stalin underestimated the workings of the law of value in the sphere of production and especially with reference to the means of production. ‘In the sphere of socialist production the law of value plays no regulating role. This role is played by the law of planned proportional development and state planned economy.’ This argument offered by the text is in reality Stalin’s own argument. Even though the text says that the means of production are commodities, nonetheless, in the first place, it must say that they are in the category of ownership by the whole people. Purchase and sale of the means of production in no way changes ownership. In the second place, the text ought to concede that the law of value functions differently in the sphere of production and in the process of circulation. All these arguments are consistent with Stalin’s. One real difference between Stalin and Khrushchev is that Stalin opposed selling such means of production as tractors, etc., to the collective farms while Khrushchev sold them.”
      —Ibid., pp. 105-6.

      “The first edition of this [Soviet] text [Political Economy] appeared in early 1955. But the basic framework seems to have been set even before then. And it looks as if the model Stalin set at that time was not very enlightening.”
      —Ibid., p. 109.

      “The Marxist philosophy of the proletarian class is even more vitally concerned to serve contemporary political tasks. For China, Marx, Lenin, and Stalin are necessary reading. That comes first. But communists of any country and the proletarian philosophical circles of any country must create new theory, write new works, produce their own theoreticians to serve the political tasks facing them.”
      —Ibid., p. 115. Interestingly enough, the 1967 version of this work of Mao’s, which was circulated in CPC party circles, had the words “and Stalin” deleted here.

      “In 1928 the Central Committee of the CPSU passed a resolution which said: ‘We will be able to solve the task of overtaking and surpassing the capitalist countries technically and economically only when the party and the worker and peasant masses get mobilized to the limit.’… This is very well put. And this is exactly what we are now doing. At that time Stalin had nothing else to rely on except the masses, so he demanded all-out mobilization of the party and the masses. Afterward, when they had realized some gains this way, they became less reliant on the masses.”
      —Ibid., p. 119.

      “Speaking generally, it is we Chinese who have achieved understanding of the objective world of China, not the comrades concerned with Chinese questions in the Communist International. These comrades in the Communist International simply did not understand, or we could say they utterly failed to understand, Chinese society, the Chinese nation or the Chinese revolution. For a long time even we did not have a clear understanding of the objective world of China, let alone the foreign comrades.”
      —From a speech on Jan. 30, 1962. Quoted in TMT, p. 148.

      “In 1945 Stalin attempted to hold back the progress of the Chinese revolution. He said that it was improper for us to fight a civil war and it was necessary for us to cooperate with Chiang Kai-shek. He even stated that otherwise the Chinese nation would perish. [Fortunately,] at that time we did not follow his instruction and won the revolution.”
      —Speech at the 10th Plenum of the 8th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (Sept. 24, 1962), quoted in UP, p. 298. (The next item is an alternate translation and expansion of this passage.)

      “They [the Soviets] did not permit China to make revolution: that was in 1945. Stalin wanted to prevent China from making a revolution, saying that we should not have a civil war and should cooperate with Chiang Kai-shek, otherwise the Chinese nation would perish. But we did not do what he said. The revolution was victorious. After the victory of the revolution he next suspected China of being a Yugoslavia, and that I would become a second Tito. Later, when I went to Moscow to sign the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance, we had to go through another struggle. He was not willing to sign a treaty. After two months of negotiations he at last signed. When did Stalin begin to have confidence in us? It was the time of the Resist America, Aid Korea campaign, from the winter of 1950. He then came to believe that we were not Tito, not Yugoslavia.”
      —Speech at the Tenth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee of the CPC (Sept. 24, 1962), CMTTP, p. 191. (Most of this passage is also in TMT, pp. 146-7.)

      [K’ang Sheng speaking:] “Kautsky’s economic doctrines were somewhat more enlightened than those of Khrushchev, and Yugoslavia is also somewhat more enlightened than the Soviet Union. After all, Djilas said a few good things about Stalin, he said that on Chinese problems Stalin made a self-criticism.”
      [Mao speaking:] “Stalin felt that he had made mistakes in dealing with Chinese problems, and they were no small mistakes.”
      —Talk on Questions of Philosophy (Aug. 18, 1964), CMTTP, p. 227.

      “It used to be said that there were three great laws of dialectics, then Stalin said that there were four. In my view there is only one basic law and that is the law of contradiction. Quality and quantity, positive and negative, external appearance and essence, content and form, necessity and freedom, possibility and reality, etc., are all cases of the unity of opposites.”
      —Speech (on Philosophy) at Hangchow, Dec. 21, 1965, CMTTP, p. 240.

      “Why did we make this division into first and second lines? The first reason is that my health is not very good; the second was the lesson of the Soviet Union. Malenkov was not mature enough, and before Stalin died he had not wielded power. Every time he proposed a toast, he fawned and flattered. I wanted to establish their prestige before I died; I never imagined that things might move in the opposite direction.”
      —Talk at the Report Meeting, (Oct. 24, 1966), CMTTP, p. 266. Mao is implicitly criticizing Stalin here for not having better trained his successors, and is also admitting that he is having a tough job doing so as well. (For an explanation of “first and second lines” see the quote after the next.)

      “In 1936 Stalin talked about the elimination of class struggle, but in 1939 he carried out another purge of counter-revolutionaries. Wasn’t that class struggle too?”
      —Ibid., p. 269.

      “For the past seventeen years there is one thing which in my opinion we haven’t done well. Out of concern for state security and in view of the lessons of Stalin in the Soviet Union, we set up a first and second line [of officials]. I have been in the second line, other comrades in the first line. Now we can see that wasn’t so good; as a result our forces were dispersed. When we entered the cities we could not centralize our efforts, and there were quite a few independent kingdoms. Hence the Eleventh Plenum carried out changes. This is one matter. I am in the second line, I do not take charge of day-to-day work. Many things are left to other people so that other people’s prestige is built up, and when I go to see God there won’t be such a big upheaval in the State. Everybody was in agreement with this idea of mine. It seems that there are some things which the comrades in the first line have not managed too well. There are some things I should have kept a grip on which I did not. So I am responsible, we cannot just blame them.”
      —Talk at the Central Work Conference, (Oct. 25, 1966), CMTTP, p. 270.

      “I spoke to Comrade Lin Biao and some of the things he said were not very accurate. For example he said that a genius only appears in the world once in a few centuries and in China once in a few millennia. This just doesn’t fit the facts. Marx and Engels were contemporaries, and not one century had elapsed before we had Lenin and Stalin, so how could you say that a genius only appears once in a few centuries?”
      —Summary of Chairman Mao’s Talks with Responsible Comrades at Various Places during his Provincial Tour, (Middle of Aug. to Sept. 12, 1971), CMTTP, p. 294. On the page before that, Mao denied that he was a genius and defined it as follows: “To be a genius is to be a bit more intelligent. But genius does not depend on one person or a few people. It depends on a party, the party which is the vanguard of the proletariat. Genius is dependent on the mass line, on collective wisdom.” Given that Mao also said that Stalin did not use the mass line, it is not clear what basis he had for implying that Stalin was a genius. —Ed.

Part II: A Summary of Mao’s Criticisms of Stalin by Topic

      The task now is to sum up Mao’s criticisms of Stalin in all the above comments. It should first be recognized that there are clearly some important changes of viewpoint over time, and even some outright inconsistencies if the changes of views over time are not allowed for.

      Moreover, a few early statements by Mao sound almost religious in their devotion, such as that “Stalin is the savior of all the oppressed” and “Comrade Stalin is the leader of the world revolution. This is an extremely important circumstance. Among the whole human race, this man, Stalin, has appeared, and this is a very great event. Because he is there, it is easer to get things done. As you know, Marx is dead, and Engels and Lenin too are dead. If there were no Stalin, who would give the orders?” [Both quotes are from Mao’s “Speech at a Meeting of All Circles in Yan’an to Commemorate Stalin’s Sixtieth Birthday” (Dec. 21, 1939)] Was this sort of grossly excessive praise and obeisance toward Stalin necessary in the international communist movement at that time? If so, this is in itself a very strong implicit criticism of Stalin. At any rate, by 1957 Mao was saying that Stalin’s “personality cult was metaphysics; no one was permitted to criticize him.” [“Speech at the Congress of Communist Parties and Workers’ Parties in Socialist Countries” (Nov. 18, 1957)] That’s quite a different point of view!

      Nevertheless, despite some changes in views over the years—mostly, it seems, in a considerably more critical direction—there is still a more or less unified general critical evaluation of Stalin that Mao presents in most of these collected comments. These, we feel, are the main themes:

  • While Stalin kept to a materialist stance in philosophy, his understanding and application of dialectics was much more uneven. He failed to recognize the centrality of the concept of contradiction in dialectics, and often failed to recognize the existence of important social and class contradictions.
  • Specifically, Stalin failed to understand that even after the collectivization of agriculture class contradictions still existed in the countryside, and class struggle would continue there.
  • And more generally, Stalin failed to recognize that even after the basic construction of socialism in the USSR, class struggle still continued, and the contradiction between the socialist and capitalist roads still continued—not only in society generally, but also within the Communist Party.
  • Because of this lack of appreciation of the continuation of class struggle in socialist society, Stalin tended to reduce the threat of capitalist restoration within the USSR to just the possibility of armed attack by foreign imperialism (though that was indeed a legitimate and serious worry).
  • Within the USSR, Stalin had a “paternalistic” approach toward the masses, and sought to change and run society for them, instead of using the mass line method of mobilizing the masses to change and run society for themselves. Stalin did not use the mass line either in politics or in economic work.
  • Specific examples: Stalin failed to rely on the masses in suppressing counter-revolutionaries and enemy agents, instead relying almost entirely on the security agencies to do this. Similarly, Stalin failed to rely on the masses to ward off the danger of a general capitalist restoration. Even in economic work he tended in later years to rely more on cadres and technology than on the masses.
  • Stalin confused contradictions among the people with the contradictions between the people and the enemy. Specifically, he unjustly imprisoned or executed a great many people.
  • Within the Soviet Union, the CPSU and the International Communist Movement, Stalin insisted on complete obedience from everyone, and would brook no criticisms from anyone. He was suspicious and mistrustful of those whose complete obedience and total agreement he questioned.
  • In his relations with other countries, including China, Stalin often acted as a “great nation chauvinist”, and even at times like an imperialist might act.
  • Stalin promoted the construction of an inappropriate and metaphysical personality cult around himself as an individual. [This criticism is unfortunately somewhat ironic, given that Mao later did this as well!]
  • In economics, Stalin seriously neglected agriculture and light industry, and put lopsided emphasis on heavy industry.
  • Similarly, Stalin gave insufficient attention to raising the living standards of the masses (especially the peasants).
  • Stalin seemed to be at a loss as to how to transform cooperative production in agriculture into state production, and how to transform the peasantry into agricultural workers.
  • More generally, after the early transformations of industry and agriculture, Stalin seemed to resign himself to the continuation of the existing relations of production and did not try to further transform them in the direction of communism.
  • Stalin did not show sufficient vigilance in the period before the German attack on the Soviet Union, and grossly miscalculated as to when that attack might occur. Nevertheless he did successfully lead the Soviet Union and the world in defeating Hitler.
  • On the other hand, Stalin tended to be too frightened of the imperialist powers, way too cautious, and even attempted to prevent revolutions in other countries because he feared they might lead to the involvement of the USSR in a war. At several key points, he even tried to prevent the Chinese Revolution from proceeding.
  • Stalin did not do a good job in training and preparing his successors. (This, alas, also turned out to be true of Mao.)

      If Mao had all these (and more) serious criticisms of Stalin, then why did he regularly repeat his “70% good, 30% bad” overall evaluation of the man? There seems to be two reasons: First, Stalin really did have some important positive aspects and really had led the Soviet Union to a number of important advances and victories. Among these were the massive and extremely rapid industrialization of the country; the completion of the socialization of industry; the collectivization of agriculture (though this was done in a very brutal way); and the victory over the horrendous attack by Nazi Germany (despite his lack of vigilance ahead of the German attack).

      Secondly, Mao felt that while Stalin should in fact be criticized for his errors, that it was wrong to “knock him off in one blow”. What exactly was he getting at here? Mao evidently felt that after such a long period of undiluted praise and glorification of Stalin and the Soviet Union while he was in charge, the sudden total denunciation of him and the exposure all at once of the many major problems, mistakes and even crimes during the Stalin period, would all lead to tremendous disorientation on the part of many communists and their supporters around the world. And this is in fact what happened. Many western parties, as Mao later noted, lost huge numbers of members and much of their influence in the aftermath of Khrushchev’s not-really-so-secret total denunciation of Stalin.

      Mao tended to emphasize praise and support for Stalin in his public  statements, though he did openly acknowledge that Stalin had made some serious errors. This may have been so that people would have time to reorient themselves about the Stalin era and not lose heart because of Khrushchev's revelations. It was probably also due in part to the growing need to reaffirm Marxist principles and traditions in opposition to Khrushchev's ever-more-evident revisionism. On the other hand, at meetings with leading Party cadres, Mao's remarks tended to focus more on a variety of specific criticisms of Stalin, in philosophy, in political economy, with regard to Stalin's political leadership and his leadership of the international communist movement, and with regard to his attitude and behavior toward the Chinese revolution. While Mao still often repeated that Stalin should be upheld in the main, in these more private meetings most of his comments about Stalin were quite critical, and seem to have become more critical as time went on, partly in light of the unfolding experience of the Chinese revolution.


CMTTP Chairman Mao Talks to the People: Talks and Letters: 1956-1971, ed. by Stuart Schram, (NY: Pantheon, 1974).
CSE A Critique of Soviet Economics, by Mao Tsetung, translated by Moss Roberts, (Monthly Review Press, 1977). With one exception, only passages directly referencing Stalin have been selected. But much of the rest of the material in this volume is also quite relevant in considering Mao’s attitude toward Stalin and the Soviet Union of the Stalin era. The documents here were written after Stalin’s death, and the Soviet textbook Mao was criticizing was also published after Stalin’s death. However, while the revisionists had seized political power in the USSR, the economic relations and the economic theories in place throughout the 1950s were still pretty much the same as in Stalin’s time.
MRP6-7 Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings 1912-1949, ed. by Stuart R. Schram, (M. E. Sharpe, 1992- ). As of 2006 the first 7 of 10 projected volumes in have been published. The first 5 volumes do not seem to contain any relevant direct comments on Stalin.
NE *The New Emperors: China in the Era of Mao and Deng, by Harrison E. Salisbury, (NY: Avon Books, 1992).
SSCM The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: From the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward, ed. by Roderick MacFarquhar, Timothy Cheek, & Eugene Wu, Harvard Contemporary China Series: 6, The Council on East Asian Studies/Harvard University, (Harvard University Press, 1989).
SW1-3 Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, vols. I-III, (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1965).
SW4 Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, vol. IV, (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1961).
TMT The Thought of Mao Tse-tung, by Stuart Schram, (Cambridge University Press, 1989).
UP *Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War, by Sergei N. Goncharov, John W. Lewis, and Xue Litai, (Stanford University Press, 1993).
WMZ1 The Writings of Mao Zedong 1949-1976, Vol. I, September 1949-December 1955, ed. by John K. Leung & Michael Y. M. Kau, (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1986).
WMZ2 The Writings of Mao Zedong 1949-1976, Vol. II, January 1956-December 1957, ed. by John K. Leung & Michael Y. M. Kau, (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1992).

Note: The items above marked with an asterisk should probably be considered somewhat less certain and reliable than the other sources listed.

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