2. The main target of the cultural revolution is the new bourgeoisie

Many members of the former classes and strata opposed the progression of socialism and even tried to turn back the hands of time. In these endeavors they found support from certain functionaries of the party and state apparatus. These were leading cadres who had been entrusted with high responsibilities in the revolution for their courageous bearing and unremitting commitment. But their thinking had changed. They did not keep pace with the progression of the revolution. Already on the eve of the victory, in March 1949 at the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong had cautioned:

“With victory, certain moods may grow within the Party – arrogance, the airs of a self-styled hero, inertia and unwillingness to make progress, love of pleasure and distaste for continued hard living. With victory, the people will be grateful to us and the bourgeoisie will come forward to flatter us. It has been proved that the enemy cannot conquer us by force of arms. However, the flattery of the bourgeoisie may conquer the weak-willed in our ranks. There may be some Communists, who were not conquered by enemies with guns and were worthy of the name of heroes for standing up to these enemies, but who cannot withstand sugar-coated bullets; they will be defeated by sugar-coated bullets. We must guard against such a situation.” (Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 374)

Petty-bourgeois ways of behavior like those mentioned by Mao Zedong can only be combated through constant and comprehensive control by the masses of the people from the bottom up, namely up to the top organs of the state and the party. If this behavior occurs sporadically it can be uncovered and combated with the aid of criticism and self-criticism. Should, however, the control by the masses be neglected or hampered, the petty bourgeois mode of thinking and living can spread unrestrictedly. The power linked with their leading position in the state or party gets to the heads of some people. With an increasing seclusion from the life and struggle of the masses, these cadres elude the control by the masses – they have become bureaucrats.

In the book, The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union, we compiled the characteristics of the new bureaucracy with a party membership card in its pockets as follows:

“1. Ambition and sense of power combine with careerism.

2. The rise to higher positions is accompanied by a higher standard of living and a petty-bourgeois life-style.

3. The higher position is defended against capable subordinates and secured by surrounding oneself with sycophants.

4. The higher position and greater influence are exploited to satisfy egoistic needs (furtherance of corruption).

5. The bureaucrats divide the most important posts amongst themselves according to the motto, ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’.” (p. 19)

A bureaucracy that is not being controlled sufficiently or has become uncontrollable develops common class interests of its own. Servants of the people turn into new lords. Formerly they campaigned against the old bourgeoisie – now they themselves oppose the proletariat as a new bourgeoisie.

One year before his death, in two directives Mao Zedong named the material conditions for the emergence of a new bourgeoisie:

“Our country at present practises a commodity system, the wage system is unequal, too, as in the eight-grade wage scale, and so forth. These can only be restricted under the dictatorship of the proletariat. So if people like Lin Piao [Lin Biao – the editors] come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system.”

“In a word, China is a socialist country. Before liberation she was much the same as a capitalist country. Even now she practises an eight-grade wage system, distribution according to work and exchange through money, and in all this differs very little from the old society. What is different is that the system of ownership has been changed.” (Peking Review, No. 14, 1975, pp. 7–8 and 6)

Socialization of the means of production has indeed changed the production relations. But the break with the old system does not happen overnight. For a long time, relics of the capitalist system inevitably continue to exist in socialism: Essentially two forms of property still exist, property of the whole people and collective property; the separation of manual and mental labor persists; bourgeois right has a special significance, as it remains effective in the commodity system, in the mode of exchange by money and in the socialist system of distribution “from each according to their abilities, to each according to the work they do“.

“As we now can see, the emergence of new bourgeois elements from among the working class, Party members or personnel of state and other organs is inseparable from the fact that the areas or units they belong to are trying to preserve and extend bourgeois right and these elements themselves value and crave for it. At the same time, the overthrown landlord and capitalist classes often use bourgeois right as a tool to subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat and restore capitalism.” (Peking Review, No. 22, 1975, p. 8)

Bourgeois right inevitably continues to exist in socialism, which is a transitional stage to communism. But then again it can and must be restricted under the dictatorship of the proletariat, in order to create step by step the conditions for its final abolishment. Chinese workers put it like this:

“If bourgeois right is not restricted, it will check the development of socialism and aid the growth of capitalism.” (Peking Review, No. 10, 1975, p. 6)

But a restriction of bourgeois right as well as the transition to higher forms of property are only possible when the productive forces have reached a certain stage of development. The forces hostile to socialism, however, make a stand against the transformation of the relations of production. In the minds of many people, bourgeois and feudal modes of thinking and ideas continue to be at work and hinder every progress. Already in 1937, in his work, On Contradiction, Mao Zedong realized:

“When the superstructure (politics, culture, etc.) obstructs the development of the economic base, political and cultural changes become principal and decisive.” (Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 336)

This insight exactly applies to the situation of the mid-1960s. The method to solve the outlined contradiction was the Cultural Revolution. The main target of the Cultural Revolution was the new bourgeoisie. Its leading representatives like Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping or Peng Zhen were revisionists of Khrushchev’s kind, holding the highest ranks in the party and the state and having numerous followers at every level of society. In the party and the government, in trade unions, factories, people’s communes, and colleges, they and their followers had gained such an influence that they threatened to block any further transformation of the relations of production. They had the power to control wide areas of society. The seizure of power by the bourgeoisie was impending.

A mere removal of the leading revisionists from their offices would have achieved little. In this situation, Mao Zedong and the revolutionary part of the Communist Party mobilized the masses of the people for a comprehensive class struggle against the bourgeoisie, particularly against the new bourgeoisie. With great confidence in the masses of the people, the mobilization was carried out from the bottom up at all levels of society with the aim of laying bare the bourgeois underbelly of public life, actively combating all the old ideas, culture, customs and traditions of the former exploiting classes and the new bourgeoisie, and pushing through the proletarian ideology in all areas. Through a great revolution in the sphere of the superstructure, the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist production relations had to be developed further. The Report to the Ninth National Congress states on this point:

“Our aim is to smash revisionism, seize back that portion of power usurped by the bourgeoisie, exercise all-round dictatorship of the proletariat in the superstructure, including all spheres of culture, and strengthen and consolidate the economic base of socialism so as to ensure that our country continues to advance in giant strides along the road of socialism.” (Important Documents, p. 27)

Never will the bourgeoisie leave the stage of history without a struggle. The bourgeois ideology continues to be at work and arises anew over and over again as long as the conditions for it objectively continue to exist: the existence of classes in socialism and the existence of capitalist and imperialist countries beside the socialist country. Therefore there will be further class struggles and, as their highest form in socialism, cultural revolutions.

As opposed to the Soviet revisionists and the Chinese revisionists around Liu Shaoqi, Marxism-Leninism teaches that socialism is not a separate period of history but has a transitional character.

The desirable aim of the toiling masses is communism. As capitalism is still deeply rooted in all areas of human life, it is impossible to reach communism, i.e. classless society, without a period of transition, which is the period of socialism. Here bourgeois right, with all of its inequalities, initially predominates. Lenin points out:

“Theoretically, there can be no doubt that between capitalism and communism there lies a definite transition period which must combine the features and properties of both these forms of social economy. This transition period has to be a period of struggle between dying capitalism and nascent communism — or, in other words, between capitalism which has been defeated but not destroyed and communism which has been born but is still very feeble.” (“Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 30, p. 107)

Every single decision taken in socialism is made by people guided by their class interests. Always the two classes, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, oppose each other. Always there are two lines and two roads that set the course: either the proletarian-revolutionary line triumphs, or the bourgeois line; socialism either proceeds toward communism, toward classless society, or regresses toward capitalism. This struggle must be carried out during the entire transition period of socialism. It found its highest expression in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which is being assailed so acrimoniously by today’s Chinese revisionists.

Today the significance of the Cultural Revolution for the proletarian revolutionaries of the whole world lies not so much in individual, concrete achievements that have already been taken back. What is more essential are the principles and guiding ideas that gave the Cultural Revolution a vigor previously unknown in history: Mao Zedong Thought was assimilated to an unprecedented extent by the million-strong masses of the Chinese people as a weapon in the struggle against the old and new bourgeoisie in order to remold Chinese society completely. In the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong Thought was summed up in a few principles.

Mao Zedong’s doctrine of the continuation of class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat was summarized in these phrases: “Never forget class struggle!” and “Class struggle is the key link.” These were and still are the principal battle cries against all revisionists of the kind of Khrushchev, Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xioaping and Hua Guofeng, who talk drivel of a “ceasing” of class struggle in order to transact their murky business without being disturbed. The masses of the workers and small peasants are the main force in this battle. They are encouraged to free themselves from oppression and paternalism: “Rebellion against the reactionaries is justified!”

It is crucial that the masses take control of their destiny and rely on their own creative power: “the masses are the true heroes,” “independence and self-reliance, trust in one’s own strength” – this also holds true for economic development independent of any foreign aid or interference. The all-around dictatorship of the proletariat must be accomplished, therefore the following applies to all areas of society: “The working class must exercise leadership in everything!” Every single activity has to be examined to see whether it really benefits the revolutionary classes. Under the slogan “Serve the people,” the interests of the workers and small peasants were made the yardstick of every activity.

The fundamental method applied everywhere in order to tackle all the enormous changes was the mass line. It presupposes absolute confidence in the abilities of the masses. To mobilize the masses is always of great importance in order that they can educate themselves in the struggle and become aware of their own strength. For this purpose one has to keep closest ties with the masses of the people, always consult with them, and listen to their views and wishes, take them, sum them up and go back with them to the masses.

This is only a selection of the most important principles of the Cultural Revolution. They had, of course, existed before, but not until the Cultural Revolution did they become the guiding principles for the million-strong masses of the Chinese people. That certainly was the greatest achievement of the Cultural Revolution.

Let us examine for ourselves to what extent the Deng/Hua clique has already jettisoned essential principles of Marxism-Leninism, in spite of unceasingly proclaiming their “indissoluble allegiance” in words!