Rebellion Is Justified!: Forty Years Since Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Wednesday, May 17

Forty Years Since Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR). It was on that day that the Communist Party of China (CPC) adopted the “Circular of the Central Committee of the CPC on the GPCR.” The tide had turned against the revisionist, right-wingers in power, and the revolutionaries had seized the initiative. The central committee dissolved the revisionist-led group that was formerly in charge of the development of the Cultural Revolution, and decided to set up a new Cultural Revolution Group comprised of leading revolutionaries. The circular enumerated the principal errors of an “outline” drawn up by revisionist group being dissolved, and these were applicable to the entire bourgeois headquarters in the Party, led by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. Below are quotations from the circular, followed by comments.

“Instead of encouraging the entire party boldly to arouse the broad masses of workers, peasants, and soldiers, and the fighters for proletarian culture so that they can continue to charge ahead, the outline (the rightist, dissolved Cultural Revolution group’s document) does its best to turn the movement to the right.”

Comment: The revisionists were afraid of the masses. Practically the first thing they did when they came to power was to eliminate the “four big freedoms” in the constitution which protected the masses’ right to speech and to strike.

“The outline lays special emphasis on what it calls 'opening wide'. But playing a sly trick it grossly distorts the policy of 'opening wide' expounded by Comrade Mao Tse-tung at the party's National Conference on Propaganda Work in March 1957 and negates the class content of 'opening wide'. It was in dealing with this question that Comrade Mao Tse-tung pointed out: 'We still have to wage a protracted struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology. It is wrong not to understand this and to give up ideological struggle. All erroneous ideas, all poisonous weeds, all ghosts and monsters, must be subjected to criticism; in no circumstance should they be allowed to spread unchecked.' Comrade Mao Tse-tung also said, 'To "open wide" means to let all people express their opinions freely, so that they dare to speak, dare to criticize, and dare to debate.' This outline, however, poses 'opening wide' against exposure by the proletariat of the bourgeoisie's reactionary stand.”

Comment: The reactionaries wanted to stifle the masses of working people and the youth, but wanted to “open wide” for the sake of the old and new exploiters and exponents of exploiting class ideology and politics. Deng Xiaoping’s slogan in the late 1970’s was to “emancipate your mind.” He meant this as a signal to the reactionaries that they could spew all sorts of backwardness without fear of criticism from the masses. In short, they want the intelligentsia to be comfortable and at ease, while the masses are forced off the stage of history, forced to defer to the “technocrats.”

“Just when we began the counter-offensive against the wild attacks of the bourgeoisie, the authors of the outline raised the slogan: 'everyone is equal before the truth'. This is a bourgeois slogan. Completely negating the class nature of truth, they use this slogan to protect the bourgeoisie and oppose the proletariat, oppose Marxism-Leninism, and oppose Mao Tse-tung's thought.”

Comment: A criticism must be raised here: there is a truth which is independent of class. But, Marxist materialists know that the absolute truth cannot be ascertained at any given moment. Human beings can only obtain relative truth. Marxism provides the scientific framework to best approximate the truth, and to continuously challenge that which inhibits perception of the truth. On the other hand, the criticism is aimed at the political aim of the revisionists’ slogan, which is to negate the superiority of Marxism over the pragmatic ideology upheld by them.

“Chairman Mao often says that there is no construction without destruction. Destruction means criticism and repudiation; it means revolution. It involves reasoning things out, which is construction. Put destruction first, and in the process you have construction. Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tse-tung's thought, was founded and has constantly developed in the course of the struggle to destroy bourgeois ideology. This outline, however, emphasizes that 'without construction, there can be no real and thorough destruction'. This amounts to prohibiting the destruction of bourgeois ideology and prohibiting the construction of proletarian ideology. It is diametrically opposed to Chairman Mao's thought.”

Comment: This is a critical point. The GPCR was a real revolution, but the revisionists wanted it to be a sterile, academic affair. They didn’t want the old things and ways of thinking destroyed. In one of Mao’s first articles, on the peasant movement of Hunan, he states:

They fine the local tyrants and evil gentry, they demand contributions from them, and they smash their sedan-chairs. People swarm into the houses of local tyrants and evil gentry who are against the peasant association, slaughter their pigs and consume their grain. They even loll for a minute or two on the ivory-inlaid beds belonging to the young ladies in the households of the local tyrants and evil gentry. At the slightest provocation they make arrests, crown the arrested with tall paper hats, and parade them through the villages, saying, "You dirty landlords, now you know who we are!" Doing whatever they like and turning everything upside down, they have created a kind of terror in the countryside. This is what some people call "going too far", or "exceeding the proper limits in righting a wrong", or "really too much". Such talk may seem plausible, but in fact it is wrong. First, the local tyrants, evil gentry and lawless landlords have themselves driven the peasants to this. For ages they have used their power to tyrannize over the peasants and trample them underfoot; that is why the peasants have reacted so strongly. The most violent revolts and the most serious disorders have invariably occurred in places where the local tyrants, evil gentry and lawless landlords perpetrated the worst outrages. The peasants are clear-sighted.

The revisionists feared the revolutionary fury of the masses. They wanted to preserve their bureaucratic privilege. They wanted to become a new exploiting class, like the ruling revisionists in the Soviet Union. The GPCR was all about preventing that from happening. It was a “Hunan peasant movement” of the 1960’s.

May 16th Circular


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