The New Mandarins: A Brief Introduction
by Lee Yu See

      The Characteristics & Development of Chinese Communist Monopolistic Capital

        A Short History of the Development of Chinese Communist Monopolistic Capital

      The Mandarins Before Attainment of State Power

      The Mandarins: Privileges & Power

        1. Chiang Ching

        2. “Political Rascal” Wang Hung-wen

        3. Chang Chun-chiao and Yao Wen-yuan

        Teng Hsiao-ping

        Tao Chu

      Political Privileges & Repression

        Other Privileges

        Methods of Totalitarian Control

      The Party and the Fifth National People’s Congress

    The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
The Chief Mandarin Asked For Rebellion
by Kan San

      1. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution — Why is it called “cultural”?

      2. A Real Revolution developed from a Sponsored Revolution

      3. The Development of Ultra-left Ideas

      4. The Lessons of the Cultural Revolution

      5. Conclusion

    The New Mandarins and Mass Psychology in China
by Yu Shuet and Wu Man

      The “Personality Model” of Chinese Communist Society

      The Political Personality

        Yu Shun Wen And Chan Lei Piao

        On Solidarity Within the Class — Case of the two poor peasant students

        The Deputy Team Captain

        The Tragedy of Chan

        Marrying for Political Convenience

        Breaking up for Political Convenience

        The Prodigal Son

      The Need for Aggression

        How about those that are non-aggressive?

        Apprehension And Terror

      The Authoritarian Conscience

      The Religious Personality


The three essays published in this book are contributions of the Minus 6 (70s Group) in Hong Kong to the International Conference of Studies on the New Bosses organised by Centro Studi Libertari. The Conference was held at Venice, Italy from 25th to 27th March, 1978. Other papers presented to the Conference included Intellectuals and the State by Noam Chomsky, Bureaucracy and International Organisations by Marianne Enckell, New Systems and New Bosses in China and USSR by Tamas Rittersporn, National Bolshevism as Ideology of the New Class in USSR by Mikhail Agurski, Similarities and Differences in Latin America by Louis Mercier Vega, and many others. All the papers, communications, and discussions will be published in Italian by Edizioni Antistato.

The meaning of the term “New Bosses” has yet to be clarified and its use in analysing the structure of societies has to be further developed and discussed. The Italian comrades in their Anarchist Programme talk about the new bosses in the following ways:

“The new ruling class, the technobureaucracy, defines itself in the intellectural work corresponding to managerial functions in the hierarchical division of social labour. The “new bosses” have these functions and from them derive their relative privileges and powers not on account of private ownership rights of the means of production but rather by virtue of a sort of intellectual ownership of the means of production, i.e. a possession of the knowledge inherent in the direction of the great economic and political groupings. The most complete form of their present domination, i.e. in the so-called socialist bloc, presents a picture of technobureaucrats with a monopoly of economic and political power, exploiting not at an individual level but collectively by means of ‘class ownership’ of the means of production. That is, they appropriate a privileged share of goods and services not directly, as happens under capitalism, but indirectly by means of the state which appropriates this ‘class’ quota and then redistributes it among its own functionaries depending on each one’s position in the social pyramid, i.e. depending on the hierarchical importance of that particular function.”

Noting the description of the role and characteristics of the new bosses by the Italian comrades, one will find that the phrase “monopolistic capitalists” used in Lee Yu See’s essay, The New Mandarins: A Brief Introduction, can be substituted easily with “new bosses”. Nevertheless, a fundamental question needs to be raised: to what extent can China (U.S.S.R., the Eastern European countries, Cuba, Vietnam etc) be characterised as capitalist and whether it would be more appropriate to describe such societies as having an exploitative relationship different from capitalism. Further clarifications seem to be essential.

The editor likes to thank the many individuals who helped in preparing this book: Clare Link, F. Chan, Hsu Hsin, F. Ho, A. Lee, M. Ng and many others who are connected with Minus 6 and the 70s Biweekly. Here we would also like to remember Louis Mercier Vega who was one of the initiators of the Venetian Conference and before he died made a substantial contribution to Minus 6, which has helped paying part of the cost of printing the present book.


Lee Yu See

The New Mandarins: A Brief Introduction
by Lee Yu See

The Characteristics & Development of Chinese Communist Monopolistic Capital

“In carrying out the socialist revolution, you don’t know where the bourgeoisie is. Well, it’s in the Communist Party — those in power who are on the capitalist road, capitalist roaders are still on the move.” — Mao Tse-tung [1]

The official view of the CCP under Mao was that “95% of the cadres are good”. But Shengwulien, formed on October 11, 1967 in Hunan province, a coalition of twenty Red Guard and rebel-worker groups, posited the view that 90% of the cadres are part of a useless bureaucracy. [2]

It is the tendency of the author to consider the communist party as the capitalist class in China today. The party cadres are the “new Mandarins”.

The characteristics of this capitalist class and the development of this monopolistic capital in China since 1949 can be briefly stated as follows: [3]

The new monopolistic capitalists or the new Mandarins have the following distinguishing features:

  1. The new Mandarins hoist the flags of “Marxism-Leninism” and “proletarian revolution” hiding their true face and were both false, deceitful and inflamatory in relation to the working masses.

  2. The new Mandarins are integrated with the authoritarian state power. The monoplistic capitalist class would live and grow and perish together with this state power. On the one hand, the monopolistic nature of the economy forms the basis of authoritarian state power. On the other hand, authoritarian politics is the precondition for the birth, the strengthening and the development of monopolistic capital.

  3. The new Mandarins are backed up by military might. Mao Tse-tung has said, “political power grows out from the barrel of the gun; the whole world can only be reformed with the use of the gun.” The origin of the monopolistic capital of the communist party (i.e. primitive accumulation) is based on the backing up by military might. All properties were expropriated from those owning them by all kinds of means. Expropriation and control, beautified with words like “collectivization” and “communization” were actually backed by the threat of violent repression.

  4. The new Mandarins will ultimately control the areas of culture and education, making both to serve authoritarian politics. In the words of Mao Tse-tung, it is “carrying out dictatorship in every aspect, in the superstructure including every cultural sphere”.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution may be considered to be a very bold attempt by the monopolistic capital of the Chinese communists to create its monopolistic culture. When the Cultural Revolution was at its height, ninety percent of the publications on sale at the bookshops were the works and quotations of Mao Tse-tung (the head of monopolistic capital) and the other ten percent were works of Marxism-Leninism and policy statements of the Chinese communists.

A Short History of the Development of Chinese Communist Monopolistic Capital

The development of monopolistic capital in China can be separated into four periods:

  1. From the seizure of political power in the Mainland in 1949 to the termination of the Land Reform Movement in 1953. At this time, the Chinese communists’ monopolistic industrial capital constituted 70% of the total industrial capital. The remaining 30% was controlled by private national industrialists and commercial representatives. In agriculture, the Chinese communists were unable to bring about an immediate monopolistic takeover. A “land reform” movement was carried out to win over the confidence of the majority of the peasants. At the same time, the communists implanted their machinery for domination in the villages all over China in order to create the basis for the next step of monopolising agriculture (Mao Tse-tung called it the socialization of agriculture).

  2. The year 1953 saw the beginning of the mutual co-operative movement. By 1957, the socialist reconstruction of agriculture, handicraft industry, national industry and commerce had been completed. The “communist” dictatorship, backed by violence, used very careful and articulate means to embrace the several hundred million peasants, handicraftsmen, national industrialists and businessmen into the loci of monopolistic state capital. There were many who beat the gongs to give up their properties to the “communists” during the day. In the evening, they buried their heads and cried because they knew that they had lost everything. A few peasants insisted to be on their own but as a whole, the monopolistic state capital of the “communists” had now made up 80% to 90% of the total.

    As soon as such monopolistic state capital was formed, it started to bleed the people. The “anti-rightist” movement of 1957 and the “Great Leap Forward” of 1958 were attacks by monopolistic state capital on the masses politically and economically.

  3. Between the “Great Leap forward” in 1958 and the eve of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1965, Chinese monopolistic state capital, through “communization,” had matured and towards the end entered a period of decadence. At this point in time, the social contradiction was manifested in the discrepancy between the desires of monopolistic capital and the reality of the social productive forces. Through political pressure the people were forced to exercise their “greatest enthusiasm” and were super-exploited and suppressed so that the accumulation of monopolistic capital might be increased. The “paradise” of “communist” monopolistic capital was to be reached by one attempt. In the end the social productive forces were severely damaged. The economy was dislocated, supplies were extremely inadequate, hyper-inflation occurred and the people were grumbling restlessly. Eventually, Mao Tse-tung and the faction he led, being responsible for initiating the Great Leap, had to withdraw from the front-line of power. Liu Shao-chi and his faction had to deal with the ruins. What followed were: adjustments in the industries, contraction of the scale of the communes, disbandment of the village communal dining halls, the transformation of ownership (from ownership by the whole people to collective ownership or from collective ownership to private ownership), all industries would practise the policy of “rearrangement, strengthening, reinforcement and elevation.” After some time, the intense contradiction was blunted (but not resolved) and the social productive forces were slowly recovered. At this juncture, the monopolistic capitalist class was divided into two camps. The Mao and Liu cliques started off with disagreement over policies but ended in struggling for “leadership.” From 1963 to 1965, both camps vied for leadership of the “Four Clean-Ups” Campaign. It was a rehearsal of a continental fight for power and an overture of the open split between the two camps during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

  4. From the Cultural Revolution in 1966 to the present time, there were splits and tremors within the Chinese monopolistic capitalists. They have caused great confusion and degeneration in the arena of economics, politics and culture. The internecine fight within the monopolistic ruling class is one which cannot be settled by compromise. As early as 1959, at the conference of Lushan, Mao Tse-tung had banished Peng Teh-huai, Chiang Wen-tien and Chou Hsiao-chiu away from the top ruling stratum of the monopolistic capitalist class by identifying them as “right-wing opportunists.” Till now, their cases have not been reversed. The episode became an immediate cause of the Cultural Revolution. The essay that fired the first shot of the GPCR was Yao Wen-yuan’s “On the Historical Play, the Dismissal of Hai Jui” and the spearhead of the criticism was directed at the faction which sought to reverse the verdict on Peng Teh-huai. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Tse-tung’s faction made use of the students’ movement and the mass movement (in reality, manipulation of the students and the masses) to eliminate Liu Shao-chi and Teng Hsiao-ping who were accused of being capitalist roaders. Then Chou En-lai and his clique succeeded Liu and Teng and took advantage of an opportune moment to get rid of Lin Piao. Mao Tse-tung was forced to admit the facts and had to recognise Lin Piao also as a capitalist roader. The Chou clique reinstated Teng Hsiao-ping and many others but soon the Maoist faction created the “Counter right deviationist wind” to combat such developments and succeeded in freezing Teng Hsaio-ping as the “unrepentent capitalist roader.” But as soon as the leader of the Maoist faction passed away, the “Gang of Four” who were closest to Mao Tse-tung were quickly and soundly thrown into the hell of the capitalist roaders by a newly elevated gang of representatives of monopoly capital. During the intrigues and struggles mentioned above the contenders provided “ample and sufficient proofs” to demonstrate the “capitalist nature” of their opponents. In the end, all the people inside and outside Mainland China would be acutely aware that they all are capitalist roaders, they all are part of the monopolistic capitalist class although they may be painted with different colours. The capitalist roaders are still on the move and the struggles among the communists themselves continue. It can be predicted that more vigorous struggles are developing and such struggles will end only on the destruction of the “communist” monopolistic capital by the people.

The Mandarins Before Attainment of State Power

To quite a number of us, from the beginning, the CCP was a bourgeois organism. The party was structured along hierarchical lines. It assimilated all the forms, techniques and mentality of bureaucracy. Its membership was schooled in obedience and was taught to revere the leadership. The party’s leadership, in turn, was schooled in habits born of command, authority, manipulation and egomania. Before the party’s seizure of state power in 1949, the party’s leadership and membership were already manifesting all traits of exploiters and oppressors. On winning power, they became the “new Mandarins”, who began to set up a terrifying totalitarian/bureaucratic regime.

Throughout the history of the communist party, one can trace its totalitarian/ bureaucratic character. It is the task of some of us to examine the history of the CCP in order to fully reveal its totalitarian/bureaucratic past. Our contention is that the present totalitarian/bureaucratic system could be traced back to the history of the CCP, the mode of operation of which was to be attributed to the Leninism-Stalinism to which the Party subscribed. This task of tracing the development of the CCP is yet to be completed. However, we can give a few examples:

  1. In the ‘20s and the ‘30s those communists well versed in Russian, like Chu-chiu-pei and Wang Ming, monopolised the theoretical formulation of the party’s line and policies because there were then very little translations of Marxist-Leninist works. They then posed themselves as theoreticians, feeling and acting superior to ordinary members, and because of their monopoly of theoretical knowledge, they were to be the leadership of the Party. In one case, Chu-chiu-pei translated a Russian work on dialectical materialism and passed it as his own work! [4]

  2. The power struggles inside the party were conducted in the main in secret. Very often, dirty tricks were played — in the Gang of Four affair, the Lin Piao affair, etc. there were intrigues and conspiracies. Not infrequently, secret police tactics were utilised. For example, reported by ex-party member Kung Chor, a leader of the Seventh Red Army who now resides in Hong Kong, Mao Tse-tung wanted to reorganise the cadres of the Seventh Red Army. This idea of Mao was objected to by most people and using the pretext that there existed reactionary elements in the Army, more than twenty cadres were physically exterminated. Even more startling was the Fu-tien affair — there were a sizable number of people in the Kiangsi Provincial Action Committee and the Twentieth Red Army being dissatisfied with Mao Tse-tung and they sided with Chu-teh. Mao directed Teng Fa to strike at these dissidents and generated the so-called Fu-tien affair. Supporters of Chu-teh were tortured, the number involved was so large that it is believed that nearly 10,000 were executed, including the General Secretary of the party in the province. [5]

  3. During the period of Yenan, reports on the bureaucratic set-up of the CCP are readily available. The first is an essay, “Wild Lilies”, by Wang Shih-wei, translated into English and published in an issue of the New Left Review. The same essay by Wang was quoted by Simon Leys in his book Chinese Shadows. In the essay, Wang talked about the hierarchical pyramid in Yenan. High on the hierarchy were those who were fed better, clothed better. The healthy big sorts were having unnecessary and unreasonable “luxuries” and “pleasures” while sick comrades might not have even a bowl of noodle soup. The existence and prevalence of these and other bureaucratic practices in Yenan were confirmed by Smarlo Ma’s book, Struggling for 18 years.

Smarlo Ma was also a member of the CCP. While he was in Yenan, he found the common cadres of Yenan usually had seven cents a day for their meals, and the troop had only five cents. During lunch time, ten people would get together to form one group to share one small dish. They had to eat red carrots for months in winter, and pumpkins in summer. Those who were graded above department or division head could enjoy “middle stove,” with one bowl of soup and one dish per head. Higher up the grade were minister and regiment “commanders who were offered “small stove” with two dishes and one bowl of soup, and members of the Politbureau and Chairman Mao would have four dishes and one bowl of soup. [6]

The division of classes was thus rigidly enforced.

Even the days of Yenan were to be characterised by bureaucratic practices: one should not be surprised by the critiques levelled at the post-liberation regime at various times.

Liu Hsi-ling, during the period of the Hundred Flowers Bloom, 1956, pointed out, “A person’s appointment is not dependent on his virtues or abilities. It depends on his qualification — whether he is a party member or league member — some people join the party in order to enjoy the privileges. There’s no prospect if one does not join the party... there exists a system of ranks. The allotment of tables, desks and paper-baskets by cadres depends on rank. A system of rank has permeated every area of life. When I am sick and want to consult a doctor, I have to have reached the thirteenth rank. How can I reach that?” [7]

During the Cultural Revolution, 1967, Yang Hsi-kwang wrote thus: “We really believe that 90 percent of the senior cadres should stand aside...This is because they have already come to form a decaying class with its own particular ‘interests’. The relation with the people has changed from that, in the past, between leaders and the led to that between exploiters and the exploited, between oppressors and the oppressed...” [8]

And Li-I-che by 1974 had written the famous big character poster describing how the communist leaders had attained “political and economic special privileges and then extended them boundlessly to their families and clansmen, relatives and friends, even to the degree of exchanging special privileges (among themselves), to obtain for their children actual inheritance of political and economic positions through such channels as ‘taking the back door’”. [9]

Li-I-che’s big character poster “Concerning Socialist Democracy and Legal System” and Yang Hsi-kwang’s (Shengwulien) “Whither China?” have been published widely in English and French. The 70s have included the two documents in their book The Revolution is Dead; Long Live the Revolution which can be sent to interested comrades. We now turn to a very short description of the actual practice of political and economic privileges.

The Mandarins: Privileges & Power

Since the downfall of the Gang of Four, the official press in China has released a tremendous amount of information about bureaucratic privileges vis-a-vis the Gang.

The following is but a random sample of privileges (and corruption) depicted by the Chinese official press:

1. Chiang Ching

According to a serviceman at the Tientsin, Chiang Ching stayed at the Hotel for 38 days, during which period over $30,000 RMB were spent, averaging $1,000 RMB per day — exactly one thousand fold of the daily wage of a second class worker.

She alone occupied the whole building but was still not satisfied and had to occupy another building — the theatre and the entertainment room for her own use. The rooms that she used had all to be sterilised, by ultra-violet rays. From where she got off the car to the corridor and the bedroom the temperature must be kept constant. Her bedroom was very special; there were double-glazed windows plus cotton and 5 layers of curtain — later one more layer of curtain was added to cover the wall! In order to keep the air fresh, oxygen was pumped in.

Her clothes were also very peculiar: Every time she came, she brought with her several chests of clothes, to be changed several times a day. That time when she came to Tientsin, June 1974, she spent 760 yuans at the tailor for some twenty pieces of clothing.

She was also demanding in her habit of eating. Not caring whatever season it was she ate what she wanted. When she wanted to eat live shrimps in winter, the servicemen had to break up the ice of the river to catch them; when she wanted to eat “carp” fish at midnight, the servicemen had to forego sleep and

rushed to find it for her at once; when she wanted to eat “kit” fish they had to rush to places 200 miles away to buy it; and when she wanted to eat live “jack” they had to send forth boats to catch it along the river.

This serviceman sighed, “This old witch was more than the capitalist.” [10]

2. “Political Rascal” Wang Hung-wen

Wang Hung-wen had long been described by the Chinese Communists themselves as a rascal and a political pickpocket.

According to the exposed material of the Treasury Department, Wang’s 4 months of living in Shanghai had wasted more than $23,000 RMB, with an average of $5,750 per month.

This was tenfold his normal monthly salary of $600 as vice-chairman.

As compared to the common worker, this was 180 fold of their monthly salary of $36.

Last year’s People literature (December issue) featured an article on “The Gang’s Banquet”. It pointed out that Wang Hung-wen had held 5 banquets for his guests from Shanghai in the period between January 8th, 1975, when the 2nd plenary session of the 10th Party Congress was called, and January 13th, in the course of the 4th National People’s Congress. In the banquets guests were served abundantly with rare and expensive food and wine.

Where did Wang get all this money? The article said that he reclaimed the money spent on these feasts from the subsidy on “special expenditure”. This well illustrated that Wang was no less blatant than the Soviet Politbureau members in disposing of public funds.

Other sources pointed out that Wang liked hunting, fishing and playing poker. He alone possessed 81 cars and was attended by 10 doctors. The fishing pole and poker he used were both imported from abroad. Last year, he even spent — $360,000 public funds to import glass tiles for a room.

Wang was originally a worker, and had risen to the position of Party Vice Chairman like a helicopter. But the extent of his corruption was even more rapid than riding a helicopter. [11]

3. Chang Chun-chiao and Yao Wen-yuan

Chang and Yao were both avid advocates of the struggle against bourgeois rights. Chang, however, was unwilling to see his daughter being sent to the countryside to labour. When his daughter got married, Chang held a big wedding feast and offered her 10 TV sets as wedding gifts.

Yao Wen-yuan was famous for his numerous rooms. Before 1973, his family, five people altogether, lived in a house with more than 60 rooms but still felt uncomfortable. After 1973, they moved to a big house with 125 rooms.

The garden alone was redecorated three times within 3 years. The walls were all demolished and rebuilt to a greater height, with iron wire at the top. The decoration inside the house was of course even better. The 3 redecorations cost the state $130,000. [12]

* * *

Some may say now that the Gang of Four was smashed, this corrupt phenomenon in China has gone too. But this is not so. The Gang of Four were toppled but those who defeated the Gang of Four were also part of the bureaucrats. Many of them had once been defeated in the Cultural Revolution during which period the exposures by the Red Guards of their scandalous life were no less inferior than the Gang of Four.

Teng Hsiao-ping

During the Cultural Revolution, Teng Hsiao-ping was referred to by the Red Guards as the “Second Biggest Capitalist roader still on the Capitalist road.” The following were examples of the luxurious capitalistic life style of Teng.

On November 21st, 1965, Teng Hsiao-ping and his family, accompanied by some 20 people made a trip to Kweichow, specially for Juny’s famous “mutton soup”

To prepare for Teng’s visit, Kweichow’s vice provincial chief went to Juny to preside over the meeting of people from various units like urban, commerce, food, other provisions to divide up the work. An electrical heater was specially fixed in the hotel and the floor was carpeted. Puppies, fat sheep, Maotai and Kweichang’s famous product, Teng’s favourite “Dollfish”, and other valuable food were prepared.

Juny’s first class cook was employed to prepare the feast. The feast cost a total of several thousand dollars. In Kweichow, Teng lived a luxurious life like the capitalist privileged class. He alone occupied all the rooms of the 6-storey Golden Bridge Hotel. Each room was delicately decorated: table cloth, blankets, sheets, and carpets were all the most fashionable and high class. Included was a table lamp imported from Hong Kong valued at $2,000, specially bought for use when playing mahjong.

Teng often played mahjong up to midnight so the servants had also to stay up in the night to attend to Teng’s needs.

Teng’s visit to Kweichow wasted a total of $11,000! [13]

Tao Chu

When Tao Chu was the First Secretary in Canton, he imported thousands of tons of fertilisers from Hong Kong and exchanged them with districts around the country for pigs, chickens, ducks, eggs, sugar, fruits, etc. Just in a year’s time, the accumulated profits amounted to over $6 million. Tao did not submit the sum to the Centre but used it instead to entertain his guests and lived a luxurious life.

In 1949, Tao Chu invited Teng Hsiao-ping, Li Jien-chuan, Peng-cheu, and some hundred other people to come to Canton to celebrate the Chinese New Year. When these people arrived, Tao brought them to tour around Hainan Island. Before the tour, Tao ordered the various “yuan” on their route to polish their houses and arranged for places where these “guests” would rest. He further sent 6 planes to fly to and from Canton and Hainan.

Tao himself possessed a luxurious flat on the Island, a beautiful villa and entertainment places like a “Water Club” and “Crystal Hall”.

Tao was a dance lover and had spent over 4 million dollars to construct a dancing theatre. Moreover, he imported many American blue movies from Hong Kong to be shown twice a week — the so-called “Internal Movies” which only catered to the upper class people. [14]

There existed/exist many big and small Gangs of Four, big Mandarins and small Mandarins, in the central government, in the military regions, in the provinces, cities and yuans. Conspicuous consumption is prevalent among the cadres, especially the senior ones.

On the other hand, among the Mandarins themselves, there exists a tight system of ranks. Their positions are based on their salary and their jobs. Salaries above the 13th grade are senior cadres. The word ‘head’ carries a sense of superiority and of course, there are heads above heads, and when heads appear in public, the order as to who should come first is strictly adhered to. As Simon Leys pointed out:

“To ride in a car marks you as an official, but the model, color and size will vary according to your importance. At the bottom levels one finds Russian, Czech and Chinese medium size cars, cream-colored or grey; at the top one has long black Hung-ch’i limousines, with tulle curtains that conceal the passengers from the crowd.” [15]

Political Privileges & Repression

Apart from the economic privileges and benefits, the bosses command political privileges and power. They control state power, dominating the party, the government and the army. They rule the people and are not restrained by them. They can make use of the funds in the treasury and utilise resources and facilities of the country without the people’s supervision. They can prosecute, put innocent people in jail, initiate murders and massacres. They join into gangs, protecting one another, monopolise public opinion, hide the truth, generate false impressions, promote the personal cult, and suppress criticisms.

In the case of Chang Chun-chiao, Yao Wan-yuan and Wang Hung-wen, when they were in control of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee, they resorted to the rule of terror. Chang directed his special agents to arrest any person at will and this was called ‘dictatorship of the masses’. He directed the newly recruited secret agent machinery to set up ‘small groups of dictatorship of the masses’ to act as watchdogs for him. Using the pretext to defend the headquarters of the proletariat, his opponents and others dissatisfied with him were arrested or executed. Someone criticized him in a big character poster and was executed for being a practising counter-revolutionary. Large groups of old cadres and intellectuals were accused of being ‘traitors’, ‘special agents’ and ‘counter-revolutionary’ and arrested. Many committed suicide as a result of this persecution. Chang himself admitted in a speech that in Shanghai Wah Tung Teachers’ University, nine people killed themselves. Many writers and intellectuals like Pa Chin, Chiu Tan, Liu King, etc. were jailed for several years or sent to hard labour. The Kunming Daily commented “...[the Gang of Four] created all kinds of accusations to harm others, attacked everything and eliminated those who disagreed with them. Those who submitted to them would prosper; others would be destroyed. They twisted the facts and truths were turned upside down in the mass media they controlled. They created rumours and fooled the masses and upheld themselves as people with great achievements....They came together to form a gang in order to serve their private interests. They were authoritarian and haughty. They suppressed the masses and practised personal dictatorship...” The same paper also said “they frequently put a hat of ‘great traitor’ or ‘great special agent’ or ‘great bad egg’ on those who do not agree with them.”

The following are just a few cases of ‘counter-revolutionaries’ revealed by the Chinese official press since the fall of the Gang of Four:

  1. Li Man-chun wrote a big character poster disagreeing with the leadership in the Culture Department’s condemnation of the film ‘Pioneers’ as problematical and in the decision to restrict the showing of it. Li charged that the leaders never uttered a word of self-criticism and their pronouncements had to be followed as if they were words of God. Li as a result was declared a counter-revolutionary.

  2. Chu Kam-to, a martial artist in the Shanghai Opera Troupe, wrote to Mao Tse-tung, questioning people’s motive in praising Chiang Ching, warning him there was a conspiracy to seize power for her. The letter somehow went into the hands of the Gang of Four. Subsequently Chu was arrested on the 9th of September 1975. He was declared counter-revolutionary and his comrades were also carefully investigated.

  3. Singer Wang Kun was jailed for eight years for making suggestions to Chiang Ching. On being released, Wang said he had been forced to testify and admit crimes like ‘splitting the Central Committee of the Party headed by Chairman Mao’ etc. and he was investigated in isolation.

    The three cases above were cited from the Chinese official press.

  4. In November 1972 Tang Ching-sin, a 26-year-old male, was imprisoned for fifteen years, after which his political rights were to be deprived for another three years. Tang was suspected of being discontented with reality and as there was a need to pick out a few counter-revolutionaries to be struggled against during the ‘one strike three antis’ movement, Tang’s friends were threatened into providing false but extremely damaging information about him. Tang was eventually found to have committed the heinous crime of telling two stories slandering Mao Tse-tung. Tang’s fate was sealed. [16]

  5. Li Cheng-tien, together with two other friends, put up the famous Li I-che poster ‘Concerning Socialist Democracy and Legal System’ along Peking Road in Canton in 1974. Several copies of the poster were also circulated. The poster was condemned as ‘reactionary through and through’. Li was placed under arrest and temporarily detained. As a counter-revolutionary culprit and a ‘negative teacher’, Li was brought to various units and mass meetings for public criticism and humiliation. Within a few months, he was dragged along to attend two hundred meetings, some of which were attended by almost a thousand. Finally, the Mandarins resorted to their usual tactics — Li was taken into custody and subsequently he was sent to the coal mines at Shek Yau Chang to be ‘reeducated by the working class’.

  6. Wang Chun-i, a worker in the Shanghai First People’s Hospital, put up a big character poster in Shanghai in July 1977, accusing the Vice-Chairman of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee of having invented a false case so that Wang was condemned as counter-revolutionary. Wang was jailed at various times and in 1971, he was imprisoned with his hands handcuffed at the back for fifty days. He was administered electric shocks for forty-five days and given drugs. [17]

The six cases above concern individuals, and there are hundreds and thousands of them. As to the massive scale of suppression, one needs only to take a look at the Tienanmen Incident which took place in April 1976, when at least two thousand people were killed. In the Peking Twilight Electrical Machine Factory alone, several thousand workers were investigated in connection with the incident and an atmosphere of white terror prevailed in the factory.

The present bosses may attribute such atrocities and terror to the Gang of Four and their followers but it must be pointed out that in the above cases, Wang Chun-i was suppressed by the executor of the Liu Shao-chi line during the Cultural Revolution while the suppression of Li Cheng-tien continues under the present regime.

The fact is that the present bosses, in the name of suppressing the followers of the Gang of Four, the remnants of Kuomintang, the practising counter-revolutionaries, teddy boys and criminal elements, have held thousands of mass struggle meetings. Massive arrests, executions and cleansing operations have been taking place AFTER the downfall of the Gang of Four.

Such repressions have not escaped the western press, for example Reuters in Peking on 31st October 1977 cabled that in Kunming at least 23 people were executed for political crimes — being counter-revolutionary, distributing leaflets and joining counter-revolutionary organisations. In Shanghai 26 were executed and another 27 had been sentenced to death. According to the same report, during the year following the fall of the Gang of Four, similar actions had taken place in twelve other cities.

Regardless of whether the crimes these people have committed were genuine or faked it would seem unduly harsh to execute them, especially as Han Suyin reported recently that the Gang of Four were still receiving monthly salaries of 200 yuan to lead a comfortable life.

The massive wave of repression was aiming less at the suppression of the followers of the Gang of Four than the radical democratic libertarian forces originating from the Cultural Revolution. (For an elaboration of the development of the radical democratic libertarian forces, please read “Whither China?” by Sheng Wu-lien, “Concerning Socialist Democracy and Legal System” by Li I-che, and “Rationality at Dusk” by Yu Shuet, all of which are collected in The Revolution is Dead; Long Live the Revolution! For a shorter discourse, please read the article by the 70s member Kan San in these pages.) Initially these rebel forces were associated with Mao Tse-tung and his faction, but they developed into a formidable threat for the continued existence of the new Mandarins and monopolistic capital in China today.

Other Privileges

Before the Cultural Revolution, there were the so-called “important” schools, which were also known as “little precious pagodas”. These schools had better facilities, better teachers, and better standards and reputations. Most graduates from the important primary schools were able to join the important secondary schools and graduates from the important secondary schools would be accepted by prominent universities like Tsinghua and Peking. The important schools soon became extremely elitist and only the sons and daughters of the Mandarins were able to join. The sons and daughters of the working masses had to attend the ordinary schools which were discriminated against. These important schools were smashed during the Cultural Revolution but the present bosses are now re-establishing important schools similar to those in the past by providing them with extra finances, additional facilities and teachers with high standards. The twenty important schools being established are mainly located in areas connected with the Mandarins, e.g. Yenan Middle School and four others connected with Mao Tse-tung have been designated important schools; the Seven Years School in Jao Shing Yuen, Shansi Province was picked because this is where Chairman Hua originated; Tangshan Middle School, in May Yuen in Kwangtung Province, where vice-chairman Yeh Chieh-ying originated, likewise has been designated as one; and Nam Hai Middle School has been picked because Chou En-lai was a student of the school.

After the Cultural Revolution, under the slogan of educational revolution, universities no longer accepted current graduates from secondary schools directly. They were required to undergo two or three years of labor before they were allowed to apply for entry into the universities. Many educated youths were sent to the countryside. The official reason for doing this was to educate and reform the youths through working and living with the peasants. However, this should be seen as a way to contain the youths. The political consciousness of the young people had been heightened as a result of the Cultural Revolution. Their presence in the cities would become a nuisance to the local authorities. In addition, there was the problem of providing jobs for the large numbers of youths who had graduated. What better way than to send them to the countryside?

In theory, rustication should be voluntary but in reality, many were given no choice. Yet in many cases the youths were not welcomed in the villages. The peasants resented an influx of young people who were supposed to share the very little that the peasants already had. Moreover, these young people had little experience in agriculture. So to the peasants, these young people were but burdens. The young people might be discriminated against by the peasants. They often received very low work points, and therefore insufficient food. They were given barren lands to be their private plots. They were not given opportunities to express views about the production brigade nor — were they given the right to participate in the co-operative medical service or the poor peasants’ conference or the militia. Youths who had come from the bad “black” categories were sometimes required to work with the “landlords” and “rich peasants” on the holidays. The young people in the countryside were generally unhappy and behaved in an uncooperative way, and did not participate actively in production.

Sometimes graduates from high school would be sent to the “Army for Production and Construction”, which was originally established to accomodate the rehabilitated soldiers. The Army for Production and Construction is organised like an ordinary army and life within it is highly regimented. The main work of the Army is to explore virgin and as yet unexploited land. Members of the Army then live very much in isolation and it is set down that every person can only have a half-month holiday every two years to visit his friends and relatives. But because of the many applications, it is not unusual to wait for five years. Salaries are low and if the Army’s income is insufficient to cover its expenditure, they may not be paid.

However, the sons and daughters of the Mandarins were able to avoid being sent to the countryside and to the Army for Production and Construction very easily.

Methods of Totalitarian Control

The new Mandarins from the CCP, on the seizure of power, established a very tight system of control and domination in China. Part of this system was to put everyone into a specific social caste. The five castes which are known as red categories are workers, poor and middle peasants, soldiers, cadres, and relatives of revolutionary martyrs. There are eight black categories: landlords, the rich, the reactionaries, bad elements, rightist traitors, special agents (of Kuomintang, etc.) and capitalists. In the days of the Gang of Four, intellectuals belonged to the ninth black category. Such distinction in social castes is based on the caste to which a person’s father belongs. If one’s father is a worker or poor and middle peasant, then one belongs to the caste of workers or poor and middle peasants and this virtually says that the person is red and revolutionary by birth. But if one’s father is a capitalist or a member of any black category, then the person will be very unlikely to receive a good education, get a good job or be given proper medical treatment. The person will be condemned to be discriminated against, despised and rejected. The person’s spouse, family, and children will be similarly affected.

The close connection between a person’s caste content and his life is reinforced by the so-called “historical problems and political problems”. “Historical problems” can refer to the origins of one’s family, ancestors and parents or grandparents, friends, or any other social relations. A person may belong to a red category, with parents and grand-parents all having clean historical records; he may never have worked in a reactionary or counter-revolutionary camp; yet he may be ruined if a cousin or an auntie was not historically clean.

As for “political problems”, in theory all anti-Party, anti-Marxist-Leninist and anti-Mao Tse-tung Thought elements were to be politically condemned. However, there were never in existence any permanent objective criteria to enable judgements to be made. Yet, the eight hundred million Chinese people are constantly judged politically by the Party!

It was reported recently in the People’s Daily that the daughter of Wang Hsin-mui, despite being an outstanding member of the Communist Youth League and a good student, was not allowed to attend a gathering to commemorate Mao Tse-tung nor was she allowed to participate in the celebrations at Tienanmen to rejoice at the crushing of the Gang of Four. The reason was simply that there were some historical relations of her father which had to be clarified. With a slip of the pen, the new Mandarins have revealed that the attendance at commemorating gatherings or celebrations is a kind of privilege to be granted to those whose family, historical, and political background has been screened.

Wang’s case is one mild example which the new Mandarins in Peking have not found too embarrassing to publish. There are plenty of similar cases which are worse but not reported. It seems that the new Mandarins in Peking are aware of this particular problem, but great changes are unlikely in the foreseeable future.

To maintain a totalitarian control of the people, the new Mandarins in China have created and perfected, as we have said, a system of tight control. The system consists of a series of interconnected institutions.

  1. Police Station. The most basic unit of the Public Security Bureau is the police station. Every commune and every town has at least one police station. The daily work of the police station is to keep records of the local residents and, through the residents committee supervise the five bad elements — ‘landlords, the rich, reactionaries, bad elements and rightists’. Every police station has a dark room where the law-breakers within the locality are imprisoned. But the prisoners do not stay there for more than three days. They are either released or sent to other places. Those who are suspected of committing serious crimes may be sent to a division of the Public Security Bureau directly. Those who have committed less serious crimes are usually sent to the headquarters of the ‘Workers’ Control Troop’ of the locality. If they are not local residents, they will be sent to the short-term concentration camp, from where they will be sent back to their homeland. The same is true for those who do not have any legal rights of residence.

  2. The Workers’ Control Troop. The Workers’ Control Troops were established during the Cultural Revolution. For example, in Canton, there is the supreme headquarters of the Canton Workers’ Control Troop. Under the supreme headquarters there are four headquarters of the east, the south, the west and the north. The western headquarters is famous for the cruel treatment of the prisoners.

    The work of the Workers’ Control Troop is complementary to that of the police station, and independent of the police station. Every day the headquarters sends out a number of patrol groups to the streets. They are empowered to detain any suspects of crime. Every member of the patrol groups is equipped with a green helmet and a nightstick five feet long.

    Every headquarters has its own prison. The conditions within these prisons are very bad. There are almost no windows inside them and the prisoners may sometimes find it difficult to breathe. The wardens often mistreat the prisoners. For example, they may use a bag to cover the prisoner’s head and then kick and hit him, or they may hang him on a tree overnight with his body turning upside down. The prisoners do not stay there for a long period of time. They are either sent to the Public Security Bureau or the short-term concentration camp. Every prisoner has to pay for what he eats while he is there.

  3. Short-term Concentration Camp. The short-term concentration camp is to receive law-breakers who are not local residents. The system of short-term concentration camp is especially established in Kwangtung since it is near Hong Kong. Large numbers of people who fail in their attempt to escape to Hong Kong are sent to these camps.

    Inmates here are often badly treated, scolded, slapped on the face and kicked at. If the wardens become more nasty, one can be dragged outside and beaten by clubs and hung under a basketball ring the whole day.

  4. Labour Reform. Labour reform is to deal with cases of contradiction between the enemy and the People. The term of imprisonment is not fixed. Labour education is to deal with cases of contradiction amongst the People, and of contradiction between the enemy and the People which can be seen as contradiction among the People. The term of imprisonment is usually 3 to 5 years. Although the terms are different, people who receive labour reform or labour education will get the same kind of treatment during this term of imprisonment.

    Those who are sentenced to ten years or above are sent to the outlying areas. In provinces like Heilungkiang and Kwangsi, there are large labour reform camps. Organisational labour is a method used by the government to deal with those prisoners who have finished their sentence but do not want to go back to society because they cannot find work easily and they are discriminated against there. So the government permits them to remain in the labour camp. Their right of citizenship is revived and they receive some kind of reward for their work. The government has also established factories and farms for them to work in.

    After the Cultural Revolution many reform camps were turned into ‘7th May Schools for Cadres’.

    Forced labour first made its legal appearance in 1973. This is for those who have committed small petty crimes continuously. The term of imprisonment is not more than 3 years, usually 2 years. Such prisoners receive better treatment than those mentioned above. They have a rest day every month. If they had work originally, their work unit continues to pay their wages, which they cannot get themselves. After they have finished their sentence, they can go back to their original work units to work.

  5. Study Sessions. Closely knit into the system of control are the study sessions on Mao Tse-tung’s Thought. People suspected to have political problems or people required to confess are summoned by the cadres to attend study sessions on Mao Tse-tung Thought. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of study sessions, the ‘soft’ ones and the ‘hard’ ones. The soft ones adopt the ‘mushroom tactics used by Chairman Mao in guerilla wars. Once started, the sessions last for months — ‘the fat becoming thin, thin becoming sick’, and in the end, everyone surrenders. In the hard ones, the principle of ‘being strict to those who resist’ applies — those who fail to confess or explain are considered active against the Party and therefore to deserve no mercy at all. After the sessions, they are arrested and labelled as ‘bad elements’.

Furthermore, the new Mandarins have established a tight system of records of the population of the country. The family background, experience, clan relations and social relations of every single individual are recorded in files which are handled by special cadres in the Party and the Public Security system. When an individual moves to another occupation, the file is transferred simultaneously. One does not know how one is judged in the record, but on the basis of this record, the Party decides the person’s occupational position, social position and political position.

In addition, the new Mandarins have developed other methods of control e.g. food rationing and household registration. Food rationing becomes a means to forestall any rebellion or resistance. When it is combined with the policy of household registration, it becomes a tool to restrict freedom of movement and travel. A system of household registration and control is strictly enforced. The occupation and life of the People are completely controlled and manipulated by the Party. When one is instructed by the Party to work in a certain place and at a certain job, one has to obey. When one moves from place A to place B, formal approval has to be sought from the authorities, otherwise there will be no food coupons. A pass is required in travelling from place A to place B; food coupons usable in particular areas or in the whole country are also required.

The Party and the Fifth National People’s Congress

A few final words may be said about the Fifth National People’s Congress and the Fifth National People’s Political Consultative Conference. Both were dominated and controlled by the New Mandarins; both were controlled by the CCP, the members of which we have earlier identified as the monopolistic capitalist class. The Chinese communist Party is the largest party in the world, with 30,000,000 members. They are scattered all over the country, in the various governmental departments, organisations, factories, shops, schools, hospitals, residence units, as well as communes. The Party has rank and file members in every grassroots unit led by a Party Committee. On the basis of administrative regions, there exists a whole hierarchy of Party Committees, each dominated by and receiving directives from the Party Committee one level above. So, for example, the Party Committee of a commune would be directed by the Party Committee in the Yuen, which in turn would submit to the provincial Party Committee. The provincial Party Committee is responsible to the Central Committee of the Party. As for the Army, the whole country is divided into 12 Military Regions, every one of which has a Political Committee of Party members. Within the Army at different levels are corresponding Political Committees. The Political Committee of the Military Region comes under the Military Committee of the Central Committee of the Party. Various departments of the State Council are directed by respective Party Committees which would lead their corresponding departments at the provincial or municipal level. The various departmental Party Committees in the State Council are in turn responsible to the Central Committee of the Party. The Central Committee of the Party has its power concentrated mainly in the Political Bureau and the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. Dominating the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee are the Chairman and Vice-chairman of the Party.

So, like a pyramid and a giant octopus, the Party controls the state machine — the government, the Army, the police, and the various social organisations, factories, communes, as well as the residence units of the people.

The Party demands total submission to its ideology and policies not only from the Party members but also from the whole population. Any deviance, obstruction or opposition will incur severe repression in the form of being purged, struggled against, sentenced to labour reform, imprisonment or even execution.

The Fifth National People’s Congress and the National People’s Political Consultative Conference are but rubber stamps to give the new ruling clique and governmental or political machineries as well as policies an air of legality and legitimacy. But the so-called People’s Representatives (a total of 3,497) did not function as the people’s true voice or representatives because the several thousand people only gathered together to listen to reports, to read documents and to study them. No queries were raised; no questioning was made. Everything was decided by the Party’s Central Committee and the People’s Representatives could only praise such decisions and agree with such decisions unanimously.

The Congress “elected” Hua Kuo-feng on the proposal of the Central Committee of the Party to be Premier of the State Council. Hua already is Chairman of the CCP and the Commander of the Armed Forces. When Mao Tse-tung was enjoying his dictatorial rule he was only Chairman of the CCP and Commander of the Armed Forces. Now Hua is also Premier. For a person to monopolise all the three positions is no practice of socialist democracy, however one may define it.

Hua Kuo-feng’s report of the government to the Congress consists in the main details of the struggles against the Gang of Four. No actual figures or documentation of facts or descriptions of actual conditions have been provided on economic construction or political management. Such a report does not allow the people or anyone the opportunity to evaluate the government’s performance objectively and scientifically.

Hua Kuo-feng reiterated the goals of the four modernizations and the continuation of the ten years development plan formulated by Chou En-lai before he died. The plan was formulated without consultation with the people at all. In reality, the people seldom have been provided details of any plans whatever.

The Congress revised once again the Constitution of the State. The Central Committee of the Communist Party discussed and adopted the draft before it was submitted to the Congress. In the Report on the Revision of the Constitution to the Congress, Vice-chairman Yeh Chien-ying spoke about socialist democracy.

He said, “Chairman Mao astutely pointed out: the people must have the right to manage the superstructure. We must not interpret the question of the people’s right to mean that only under the administration of certain people can the masses enjoy the right to work, the right to education, the right to social insurance, etc. He also taught us that, under the socialist system, the right of the working people to manage affairs of state, to run various kinds of enterprises and to administer culture and education is their supreme and fundamental right, without which they can enjoy neither the right to work, nor the right to education and rest, nor any other right.” So according to Yeh Chien-ying, in the light of this concept, the following article has been added to the General Principles of the Constitution: “The State adheres to the principle of socialist democracy and ensures to the people the right to participate in the management of state affairs and of all economic and cultural undertakings, and the right to supervise the organs of state and their personnel.” In the report, Yeh Chien-ying further added, “we must earnestly carry out democratic management with the participation of the broad masses, from the grassroots units on up.”

Yeh Chien-ying’s elegant words may be sufficient to convince some to allow the present ruling clique to continue to chart the course of the country, at least for the present time. Indeed even some people in China do harbour illusions about the Mandarins who have taken full control by eliminating the Gang of Four after the death of Mao. But to those people, we would like to raise the following questions:

  1. Is genuine socialist democracy possible without the abolition of the State and monopolistic capital?

  2. What does “participation in the management of state affairs and of all economic and cultural undertakings” mean? Does it mean that the workers themselves formulate production plans, and how the fruits of labour are to be distributed? Or does it mean that the workers simply help to reach the production targets set down by the Party in the quickest and cheapest way? Does it mean that the People freely choose the delegates to represent them and that these delegates are subject to immediate recall? Or does it simply mean that they choose only from a list approved by the Party? Does it mean that People’s Representatives can speak their minds openly at meetings and congresses or does it mean that they can only say yes to plans and policies proposed by the Party? One here is reminded of the fact that since 1949, successive constitutions have indeed guaranteed, on paper, various liberties and democratic rights to the people, who never felt that they possessed them in practice. One here is also reminded that Mao Tse-tung has in the past also called for criticism and supervision, but just when were Mao Tse-tung, Lin Piao, the Gang of Four and other Mandarins ever supervised by the people?

  3. Who are the “people” to whom such “right to participate...” is ensured? Has not Yeh Chien-ying in the same report quoted Mao Tse-tung — “Workers, peasants, urban petty-bourgeois elements, patriotic intellectuals, patriotic capitalists and other patriotic democrats together comprise more than 95 per cent of the whole population. Under our people’s democratic dictatorship, they all belong to the category of the people.”? By rejuvenating the National People’s Political Consultative Conference, an organisational form through which the Chinese Communists forged a united front with the national bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie, are the Mandarins in power trying to show or say that the national bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie also are the People? Again, in the Report on the Revision of the Constitution, in quoting the passage attributable to Mao, “If anyone resorts to what he calls great democracy to oppose the socialist system and tries to overthrow the leadership of the Communist Party we shall exercise the dictatorship of the proletariat over him”, does Yeh Chien-yin mean to identify those disagreeing with the Party line as non-people? If dictatorship is to be exercised, and over anyone who does not conform to the ideology and policies of the Mandarins, then what is the difference between “democratic management with the participation of the broad masses” and domination of the people by Mandarin thoughts and policies?

Having posed these questions, one can speculate that much will remain unchanged while there will be some liberalisation of policies and practice. It must be pointed out however that such concessions made by the Mandarins are an outcome of the demands made by the masses over the years, sometimes through uncompromising means, e.g. at the Tienanmen riot, April 1976. (See Minus 8 for more information on the Tienanmen riot.)

One fundamental question needs to be raised: are the masses in China today satisfied with just letting the Mandarins carry out reformist changes and liberalisation policies or are they ready for a genuine socialist revolution? Such a choice should now be made.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
The Chief Mandarin Asked For Rebellion
by Kan San

1. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution — Why is it called “cultural”?

Superficial observations only revealed brutal struggles, large scale rebellion, or a limited civil war in various places. Under the directive of Mao Tse-tung, Yao Wen-yuan published the essay “Criticizing the New Historical Play: The Dismissal of Hai Jui from Office” and this raised the curtain of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Yet the revolution should not be called “cultural”. After the October Revolution the Soviet Union had not travelled on the road to socialism and had become an imperialistic power. Mao Tse-tung had to seek an explanation for this. Of course we ourselves would not think that the foundation for the realization of socialism has been laid if the means of production were nationalized under the leadership of a vanguard party. However, to a stern believer of Bolshevism like Mao Tse-tung, the revisionism of the Soviet Union was puzzling. Subsequently he came to the conclusion that the superstructure has brought about counter-effects to the economic base. Mao said, “We recognize that in the long course of historical development, the material determines the spiritual; social existence determines social consciousness; but we also recognize in turn the counter-effects of the spiritual on the material, social consciousness on social existence, and the superstructure on the economic base”. This is to say Mao Tse-tung felt that although the capitalist class had been overthrown, their ideas and ideology were still greatly influencing the superstructure in the arena of theoretical formulation, academic research and artistic creation. According to Mao Tse-tung from 1949 to the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution it was the influence of capitalist consciousness on the cultural front that gave the centre stage to the emperor and his generals and political advisers, to the rich educated youth and his beauty. Such propagation of anti-socialist ideas was making preparations for capitalism to be restored. He further felt that if this problem was not resolved, China was likely to turn revisionist. Mao pointed out that the Hungarian Uprising erupted because the revisionist intellectuals of the **Petofi Club had acted as the vanguard to bring about the restoration of capitalism.

In short, Mao Tse-tung ignited the Cultural Revolution because he wanted to resolve the problem of the residual capitalist ideas and consciousness having a counter-effect on the economic base. He wanted to carry out a revolution which would deeply affect the inner soul of mankind, and revolutionize the thoughts of the people so that China would steer clear from the path travelled by the Soviet Union.

Nevertheless, this endeavour of Mao Tse-tung has often been ignored because most so-called “China experts” in the capitalist world would never ask the question as to how socialism might be achieved and how revisionism might be avoided. As for the genuine socialist-revolutionaries, they also often neglected this grand design of Mao Tse-tung. Mao was considered chief of the Chinese bureaucratic class and could therefore be written off simply as reactionary. To them Mao Tse-tung could have no ideals and was concerned only with his own power. What I would like to point out is that while it is accurate to identify Mao as the chief of the Chinese communist bureaucrats, however, it is because Mao is the most powerful bureaucrat with nearly unlimited authority, that he fails to recognise himself to be a bureaucrat. Furthermore, his character and personality possesses a certain amount of romanticism and idealism which makes him disposed to oppose the bureaucratism of others.

It is my belief that unless we understand the aim of Mao Tse-tung in initiating the Cultural Revolution to be more than the resolution of his disputes with the Liu Shao-chi faction, unless we are aware that Mao Tse-tung was seeking to revolutionize the thoughts of the people, we would not be able to explain many of the seemingly incomprehensible occurrences in the Cultural Revolution.

2. A Real Revolution developed from a Sponsored Revolution

Before the Cultural Revolution, the power and influence of the Liu Shao-chi faction had been deeply entrenched, to the extent that, in the words of Mao Tse-tung, “no needle can pierce through; no water can seep through”! Mao, in addition to his control of the army through Lin Piao, commanded respect through his own authority, but he possessed nothing else. Moreover, Mao ignited the revolution, not purely for the sake of a power struggle. The move in fact embraced a highly idealistic overtone, and this explained why Mao had the courage to mobilise the masses to attack the bureaucrats of the Liu Shao-chi faction by means of “big Link-Up”, big character posters and the slogan “attack with pens and defend with arms.” At that time, although the people found their material well being slightly better under communist rule as compared to the days of Chiang Kai-shek, they nonetheless felt suppressed in many respects. The youth, in particular, were torn between the education of orthodox Marxism which conferred upon them high ideals on one hand, and their experience in reality which differed greatly from the socialism which the Chinese communists preached to be in existence. But they could not see where the problem really lay. The bureaucrats enjoyed special privileges and received special attention. What the bureaucrats advocated was to join the party and become an official. What was prevailing, was elitism. The principle of “from the top to the bottom” ruled and the masses were reduced to small pawns on a chess board and screws in a megamachine, completely obedient to the top leadership. Hence when Mao Tse-tung mobilised the masses to struggle against the Liu Shao-chi faction, they responded most enthusiastically. It is because the masses, tired of bureaucratic rule, naively believed that it was the Liu faction to whom all problems could be traced. They became a formidable force and the Liu faction was completely toppled.

During the course of struggle against the Liu Shao-chi faction, the masses realised their own strength. The bureaucrats, once posited high above, revealed their impotence and cowardice in front of the people. When the masses smashed the governmental machine, they discovered that each individual had a secret file in which a comment made by the bureaucrats would predetermine that individual’s whole life. For the sake of the struggle against the Liu faction bureaucrats, the Red Guards went everywhere to link up with one another and organised themselves. Their power of analysis was greatly improved as a result.

After the Liu Shao-chi faction had been crushed, Mao felt that the major problem had been solved, the only remaining one being the reconstruction of peace and order. But most of the masses felt that even though the Liu faction was overthrown, the problem had not been solved. Some who were thoughtful and sensitive, having acquired a better understanding of the bureaucratic system from their struggle against the bureaucrats, persisted to the end. Some were also beginning to cast away the control exerted by Mao Tse-tung’s thought, and did what they thought ought to be done. The Shanghai Radio Station broadcast the warning that the rebels must not seize power from the Party, saying: “Some thought-confusing members of our group said, ‘Without the Party’s leadership, we still managed to achieve for ourselves victory in the January Revolutionary struggle for power. Seize power again in the same way and use it well.’”

Mao Tse-tung, seeing that the masses were gradually going out of his control, panicked. The more thoughtful Red Guards in particular, by means of link-ups exchanged revolutionary experiences with their counter-parts in other provinces and gradually formulated their own framework of analysis, most notably in the article “Whither China?” by Sheng Wu-lien. They pointed out that the only prospect for the Chinese Revolution was forming the Chinese People’s Commune to be modelled after the Paris Commune of 1871. For this goal to be achieved, they thought that the precondition was to smash the entire state machinery and the entire bureaucratic system. Ultra-left ideas thus germinated and flourished and groups like the Northern Star Study Society and Kung Shan Tung were established, causing Mao to feel the more uneasy. Furthermore, the outbreak of the Wuhan Mutiny by the military to oppose the masses’ seizure of their power further compelled Mao Tse-tung to decide on the suppression of the Red Guards. Through the military, Mao forced the masses to surrender their weapons to join the Revolutionary Committee of the Old, Middle-aged, and the Young, with the Army, Cadres and the Masses, so as to restore bureaucratic rule and to force the masses to surrender their arms seized from the military. He further launched the “Up the Mountain and Down the countryside” campaign, driving the youths up the mountain and down the countryside, preventing the Red Guards from getting together to discuss and learn how to rebel and how to attain genuine socialism. The masses’ consciousness and ideas had not yet developed to maturity and they had not been aware of Mao’s trickery. This real revolution, developed from the sponsored one was crushed before it could make great strides. The revolution is dead; long live the revolution! The failure was to pave the way for the new total revolt.

3. The Development of Ultra-left Ideas

The Revolution failed. The masses, still puzzling over the crux of the problem, had however not yet given up and were eager to clarify it themselves. They pursued their learning more enthusiastically than before. The youths who were to be sent to the countryside all rushed to the bookshops to buy themselves all the relevant reading materials they were preparing to read in the countryside, so that before the mass migration took place, the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao were sold out. Although the tumultuous mass movement was suppressed, the Cultural Revolution had not yet ended. On one hand, the Cultural Revolution had had an important effect on the superstructure, including literature, education, scientific research, and political organisation, and had negated a great part of the establishment — but all these had yet to be reconstructed. Controversies over questions such as the method of production, enterprise management etc. had also not been solved. On the other hand, the conservative faction of the bureaucrats had reorganised their strength and demanded a restoration of the old order of the days before the Cultural Revolution. They thus tried to (seize power from the newly instated bureaucrats, causing the contradiction to be deepened and become evident. The disclosure of the Lin Piao affair, the anti-Lin, anti-Confucius campaign, the criticize Water Margin Movement, and the reemergence of certain of the disgraced bureaucrats rendered the vision of the masses clear, enabling them to understand that the Cultural Revolution was yet another trick played by Mao to fool the people. The masses began consciously to boycott the instructions imposed by the bureaucrats. For example, in the field of production, their lack of enthusiasm for work lowered production greatly, and their sabotage further prevented the production target from being reached, tightening the supply of commodities. In the fields of arts and literature, education and scientific research, because of the boycott by the masses, non-cooperation of the old bureaucrats, and the incompetence of the Gang of Four and their followers, Mao’s already ridiculously inappropriate policies were to become even more farcical. In the field of arts and literature, only some ten scripts of model operas were accomplished, and all literary works were repeating the same theme and their characterisations were very much the same. The standard of education declined rapidly: those who accused the teachers were hailed as the model of the people, and those who submitted blank answer sheets in examination, heroes. The intensification of all these contradictions made the pursuit of the answer to “Whither China?” all the more urgent.

The above article “Whither China?” by Sheng Wu-lien firstly pointed out that China should head towards the goal of the Chinese Peoples Commune. The way to attain the goal was by means of overthrowing the rule of the new bureaucratic capitalist class through violence to solve the question of political power. It is indeed Utopian to neither talk about the seizure of power nor entirely smash the old state machine, but just cry the empty slogan of realising the May 5th directive. The red capitalist class had become a corrupt class hindering the progress of history; their relationship with the masses had changed from that of the leader and the led to the ruler and the ruled, and the exploiter and the exploited, from a relationship based on equality in the course of revolution to that of the oppressor and the oppressed. This class must be overthrown if the Chinese People’s Commune were to be realised. The article provoked tremendous response and sparked off further analysis of the essence of the rute of the Chinese communists. The Li I-che poster once again proved with examples the emergence of the new class in China. The essence of the new bourgeois mode of production is “changing the public into private”. When the leader of the state or an enterprise redistributes the properties and power of the proletariat in a bourgeois manner, he is in fact practising the new bourgeois private possession of these properties and powers. What has been commonly observed is that some leaders have allowed themselves, their families, kinfolk and friends special political and economic privileges, even going so far as to swap amongst themselves and push their children into political and economic positions through back-door channels. Once the Li I-che poster was pasted up, the people of Canton enthusiastically copied the whole text, and its influence extended more and more. When the Tienanmen Incident erupted, the Chinese Peoples’ understanding of the bureaucrats was pushed to the peak, well demonstrated by their words: “China is no longer the China of yore, and the people are no longer wrapped in sheer ignorance. Gone for good is Shih Huang-ti’s feudal society!” TheChinese communists mobilised the militiamen to execute the bloody suppression of the masses. After the Tienanmen Incident, the era of Mao Tse-tung finally retreated from the stage of history. The intense infuriation of the masses indirectly led to the rapid downfall of the Gang of Four and finally managed to force the bureaucrats to stop labelling the Tienanmen Incident as counter-revolutionary. The masses once again became the major determinant of China’s politics.

4. The Lessons of the Cultural Revolution

The richest heritage of the Cultural Revolution was the realisation by the masses of the greatness of their own strength. The head of the State, who had been regarded as immaculate, as well as many of the leading cadres, had fallen within a very short time. The idea that leaders were indispensible was negated. In the past everything had been done as instructed by the leaders as if the absence of leaders would lead to the collapse of the sky. The experience of the Cultural Revolution however convinced the masses that without the directions from above and with the masses themselves managing, planning and executing all administration, steel continued to be produced and the trains were punctual in arrival and departure. Production improved both qualitatively and quantitatively. When the workers controlled and managed production on their own, their commitment to work increased for they not only knew how to produce, but also comprehended what it was they were working for. Work ceased to be alienating and the working morale rose tremendously. The dullness of the past had given way to a situation swelling with life and burning with warmth. The people seemed to have realised in this very moment the meaning of life, the truth of revolution, the prospect of China and the future of mankind.

There were, admittedly, a few who had felt uneasy in the face of such great freedom. But they too looked back to those days of freedom with nostalgia and felt infuriated and disgusted with the existing political conditions. They witnessed the process through which the State Chairman, Liu Shao-chi, became “a traitor and a spy”; the constitutional successor to the Party and the State, Lin Piao, became a “traitor, a man with ambition and a conspirator” who died without a grave; an unknown young man became the vice-chairman of the Party and was then denounced as “a new born capitalist”; Mao’s wife, “student and comrade”, Chiang Ching, was condemned as a monster and likened to Wu Ji-tien. The struggle among the bureaucrats disclosed their corruptibility and rendered the People’s vision clear, making them realise that “there had never been any saviour, god or emperors to give them happiness and that the happiness of mankind had to be created by man himself.” To avoid being fooled again by the bureaucrats, to be freed from the bureaucrats and from the need of morning prayers, evening penitences, the loyalty dance, and the constant threat of struggles and criticisms, the people have to rely on their own strength all the more for the smashing up of the entire bureaucratic system.

The shift of Mao’s attitude from making beautiful promises to mobilise the masses in the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, to suddenly proposing “Revolutionary committees are fine!” to deceive the masses into discarding the demand for the establishment of the Chinese Peoples’ Commune, and then finally utilising the army to execute the brutal suppression of the masses...taught the People an old yet still new lesson: the ruling class would never retreat from the stage of history voluntarily. Without force and violence, they would never be overthrown. To be kindhearted and lenient towards the bureaucrats would only result in being slaughtered by them in the end, and to compromise with the bureaucrats was analogous to offering the bandits weapons. The generation baptised by the Cultural Revolution will be the initiator and backbone of the forthcoming socialist revolution in China.

5. Conclusion

The Chinese communists recently announced that “the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has been concluded by the victorious crushing of the Gang of Four”. The real meaning of this is: Mao Tse-tung is dead; the Gang of Four are arrested, and the Chinese bureaucrats no longer have conflicting opinions on the restoration of the old order of society before the Cultural Revolution. All bureaucrats who have lost their positions during the Cultural Revolution have been restored to positions of power, and are ready to avenge the activists of the Cultural Revolution. Does this mean anything but that the Cultural Revolution marked for its anti-bureaucratic overtone has ended? For the rebels of the Cultural Revolution, the Cultural Revolution had failed long ago. Now, it only means that they can no longer make use of the contradictions among the bureaucrats as they have done in the past few years.

On the face of it thus Mao’s attempt to initiate the Cultural Revolution in order that China will not become like the Soviet Union has failed, for the Hua-Teng policies now implemented have totally negated this attempt of Mao. Mao’s failure however was to be expected and unavoidable. Although Mao Tse-tung was capable of grasping the idea that the superstructure would and could have significant influences on the economic base, influences which if not seriously attended to, would ultimately lead to revisionism; nevertheless, as head of the bureaucrats, and deeply imbued with bureaucratic ideas, Mao could not understand that the maintenance of the bureaucratic system itself was the prime factor contributing to revisionism and imperialism. During the course of the Cultural Revolution, Mao had tried hard to maintain the bureaucratic system, as demonstrated by his saying that “Revolutionary committees are fine” and by his insistence on the practice of giving orders to be followed — even to the extent that “those understood by the people must be executed and those not understood must also be executed.” How then could the revolution he sought develop from the inner soul of the people? How then could China be saved from travelling the tragic road of the Soviet Union? The failure of the Cultural Revolution is no accident.

But Mao Tse-tung had nonetheless unexpectedly educated the generation of the Cultural Revolution. His repeatedly reactionary measures helped to generate the awareness of the people and they now have found the way for the Chinese revolution. Mao’s own practice in the Cultural Revolution destroyed his faked revolutionary image and finally led to his fading out from the stage of history. From now on, no bureaucrat will be able to bring forth theories like the “thoughts of Mao Tse-tung” to fool the masses. The Chinese People have got rid of the chains previously restricting their thoughts and the ideas of the “Ultra-left” can develop in the absence of mystifying fog. The bureaucrats have lost their weapon of ideological control on the Peoples’ consciousness.

What the Hua-Teng bureaucrats have proposed are merely the policies and practices rejected by the people during the Cultural Revolution. How then could they get accepted by and satisfy the people aspiring to genuine socialism? It is not a simple process for people who are aware to turn to action. But how long will it take for this process to be accomplished? This can come about only when the “Ultra-left” thoughts and ideas become further spread out and when there are other changes in the political situation in China. As we live outside China, we are unable to contribute much to the two areas mentioned above. On the other hand, the Chinese Revolution is an integral part of the world revolution, and if there is a genuine socialist revolutionary upsurge in any part of the world, it will inevitably affect China in a substantial way. For this reason, I have come to Japan to exchange ideas and experiences with you and hopefully this will contribute to the development of the world revolution in a small way, which will then act as a catalyst to the socialist revolution in China. Then will be the day when the aim of “liberation of myself through the liberation of mankind” is attained. (This same talk was delivered to a group in Japan earlier this year.)

The New Mandarins and Mass Psychology in China
by Yu Shuet and Wu Man

Our phrasing of the Chinese question at this time amounts to something like this: “Mao has mobilised a massive effort to ‘remould the people’ — what is the result of this purposeful transformation of Man and what are its achievements? Is it constructive or destructive, positive or negative? How has it changed the lives and livelihood of the People? How has it changed the face and character of modern Chinese society?

What we are attempting now is the examination of Mao Tse-tung’s human transformation movement and its effects on our people.

The “Personality Model” of Chinese Communist Society

We use the term “PERSONALITY MODEL” to denote a collection of common traits and characteristics displayed by members of a particular society. These characteristics may be the simple overt manifestations of the customs and norms of everyday living, or an all-pervading common attitude towards life and matter. The ‘personality model’ reflects the set of values upheld by the society. When we say that a person is a typical product of a culture (e.g. so and so is a typical American), we are actually making the observation that this man’s thought and actions seldom depart from the norms and standards set by his society. It follows therefore, that the general personality model of a society is the product of the existing state of the culture of that society, and it is not the ‘ideal character’ or ‘ideal personality’ held in esteem by that society.

We will lay emphasis on the ‘basic personality type’ throughout our discussion — this is defined as ‘the group of characteristics shared by most members of society’, disregarding age, status, province and other variables. Another type would be the ‘status personality type’ which is determined by the social position of the person, which we choose to ignore for the time being.

The Political Personality

China has been celebrated for her traditional dictatorial style of rule by a hero or a virtuous sage. The introduction of the concept of the ‘Party’ from the West has given rise to the present day single-party rule in China. The Chinese society has emphasized leadership, which controlled the thinking and running of the whole society, including private life. The effect on society was the evolution of a type of personality termed ‘POLITICAL PERSONALITY’. The sense of right and wrong and all morality has been made political. A man’s income, daily needs, interpersonal relationships etc. are evaluated according to the views of the man in the highest authority. To the common man, life itself is politics; those who are not proletarians are capitalists. Ethics means unceasing criticism, struggle against self and others, a product of the ‘AUTHORITARIAN CONSCIENCE’ cultivated by the Party.

Unquestionably, politics determine the social standing of the person. Other means of social achievement, like economic performance, intellectual creation, artistic creation, scientific advancement are monopolised and likewise politicised by the Party. Only the political way is left.

In this sense, a completely equal society is almost created. All is judged according to politics. But when politics becomes the only way of realising social standing, political manoeuvres and struggles are intensified. There is an abundance of political fanatics in Chinese communist society, for the basic desire for power is fanned and the result is gross inequality and fear...

In China two students might meet and chat about friends and family. A certain friend would be joining the propaganda teams, another would have joined some League or Brigade. Then a third may have turned ‘indifferent’ to politics. This last bit of news would be uttered in a lowered voice, with disinterest and disdain. While the other would either exclaim with disbelief “But he used to be so enthusiastically keen and dedicated! How unbelievable!” or retort, ‘I knew he was no good!”

When one is considered to be indifferent or careless about politics he becomes an outcast. He is destined to being looked down on and ignored for he is ‘no good’, ‘useless’, ‘a loner’. The popular hero in a community in communist China is sure to be a politically successful person. The most ignored and unknown person is bound to be the one least concerned about power politics. And to get a bad name, one only has to commit a ‘political crime’ once.

Yu Shun Wen And Chan Lei Piao

A student with good results, a worker with skill, a farmer with a knack at growing things may well be suspected of being unpolitical or ‘expert without being red’. He could then be in subsequent trouble regardless of his real political stand and consciousness. As long as his studies or career prosper, he is suspect. There is the general belief that politics, or redness, and career success are mutually exclusive. This belief existed as early as 1956 when a letter in the then current magazine Chinese Youth commented that:

“Lecturer Yu Shun Wen of the Crystallisation and Mineral Research laboratory at our Academy (Peking Academy of Geology) is skilled in his research work...But some comrades see him as extremely backward. He is considered a bookworm who cares nothing for politics. Over the last few years he was a model for incorrect thought and behaviour, and has been criticised and condemned time and again...When people ask, ‘Where does the motive of his selfish individualism lie?’ his comrades can only reply, ‘Concrete evidence is hard to come by, the motive never betrays itself so overtly, but the fact is many people do have the impression that he harbours such motives.’.... Although Yu has participated in some activities of a political nature, and has undertaken administrative duties, some of us are still not satisfied. Most of us feel that being a member of the Communist Youth League (which he is) he should devote much more time and effort to social reconstruction, to talking with people, to being a political activist and propagandist. This is not an isolated case; in our school are numerous similar cases.”

The caption to this letter was “Is this kind of criticism appropriate?” It seems that the editor too feels the criticism unjustified and excessive. But now, twenty years later, that kind of criticism is absolutely nothing beside what we have today.

Ever since then, this kind of political evaluation became deeply entrenched in the hearts and minds of the populace. During the Cultural Revolution, it escalated to become a tide of political fanaticism which soon inundated the whole land. There is no need for us to choose any one or two such examples from latter days — people would simply be astounded if they got to know the present reality, or maybe they would not believe it at all.

This attitude simply reduces man and personality to a political commodity. In capitalism, man can sell himself wholesale and retail on the free market with some degree of choice....Some sell their entire person, some in parts. Man becoming a commodity is a dismal reality. But in the pan-political society, man is not only a commodity, but a political commodity to be gambled away at the roll of dice in the political casino — is this man’s ‘victory’ or man’s absurd defeat?

Here, people cannot but place politics as foremost in their lives, or even treat politics as equal to their life. (‘Politics is the commander, Politics the spirit.’)

Their success or failure is decided in the political arena. Everyman is driven to the political campaigns, the spirit and heart must endure the critical test of ruthless, capricious political machinations until ‘Faith’ becomes meaningless and ‘paralysis’ takes over. There is no denial that political competition in totalitarian society surpasses by far capitalism in the destruction of the human soul. A man can choose to stand apart from the capitalist rat-race, but he cannot do the same in totalitarian politics, and still survive.

Chan Lai-piao, a Shanghainese intellectual youth, was sent to the countryside in Kiangsi in 1968, and became a peasant in Loh Peh Yuen Kang Kao Commune. He was allowed to return to Shanghai after 3 years to study in the Shanghai Normal College, as a reward for his model political behaviour. After graduation, he was sent to Kiangsi Province Revolutionary Committee’s Cultural and Education Office as an Education Cadre. His lover, whom he met in the College, worked in the same place and the two agreed to marry each other. College Graduate and Cadre were marks of success then. If he had not been politically sound, he would not have been sent to college, and the cadre who was also a graduate had high standing. He was thus a well-accepted person in society. Then the crisis came in the form of the Campaign to Control Bourgeois Rights. Graduates like him became targets of attack. Unless he volunteered again to go back to the countryside, his political prestige would be in jeopardy. He did so and was roundly praised and his standing was preserved. But neither his fiancee nor her family could accept this adjustment. He had no choice but to declare cessation of the relationship and openly denounce her and her family. She was thus put into a very difficult position, and in effect she was finished. And her fiance, in the meantime, basked in the warmest political sunshine.

Of Chan’s internal struggle we know little. This is in any case irrelevant to our discussion. We can see already that he sold his integrity as a political commodity. All along, ‘Graduate,’ ‘Cadre,’ ‘Peasant’ were but convenient labels. Chan’s success lay in his versatility in adapting his political status to changing times.

On Solidarity Within the Class — Case of the two poor peasant students

When one of us was in High School, there were two poor students from a poor peasant background in the class. The school was in the city, and there were therefore only a handful of poor country students in the entire school. The two poor students were different in personality and interest and had little interaction. In 1962, the school started to promote ‘Class Solidarity and Friendship’. These two immediately discovered each other’s attractiveness overnight and henceforth became David and Solomon, and they were hailed as the ‘Model Red Pair’. During the Cultural Revolution, they went into opposite hostile camps due to differences in political opinion. Both were from ‘good families’ and with this valuable political capital they gained leadership in their respective organisations, fighting each other to the death. What happened to the class friendship?

When politics called for solidarity, they were indeed the best of friends, and publicly recognised to have attained the highest level of friendship. When politics called for struggle, they split overnight and fought each other to prove their loyalty and progressiveness. The brother of yore is also the deadly enemy.

‘Class Love’ is but an abstraction, a conceptualisation. When society stresses it, what people are following is not even the concept but only the political will. Therefore this ‘love’ arises not from their hearts, but from their pragmatism, a monstrous falsity for the sake of politics. And although the theory of class love and class solidarity has an important place in practical politics, it is nevertheless made fun of by political reality. Do you not see ex-comrades in arms fighting a duel to the death in high level modern Chinese politics?

The Deputy Team Captain

After the Cultural Revolution, one of us was sent down to Chu Kiang Yuen of Kwangtung Province to be ‘re-educated’. Living in the home of a deputy team captain of the Commune production team, he was told about the ‘Four Clean-ups’ Campaign. The team captain said: “Although I am only a minor cadre, I was made a popular target. People knocked on my door to force me to ‘become honest’. While my son and wife were in bed, they stayed at the bedside patiently droning, how much did I take, how much did I take that was out of my share. And write it down item by item. One does not remember — and they stamp their feet and thump the table and yell. The militia man at the door lowered his rifle and summoned me with a roar. The child woke up, startled, and screamed, but his mother clapped her hand over his mouth. They clung to each other, shaking.

“On New Year’s Eve they were around again, pressing for retributions. Stating that I owe the country 100 yuan for what I have taken. No money, no New Year. Where could I find such a sum? So I had to mortgage all our bedding, bed-boards and stove at the Brigade, and still there was not enough. So the tiles were taken down to make good the balance. What could one do, these were the last valuables that remained.” He pointed at the roof and there were signs of a removal. He continued: “We spent that New Year in the cow barn. Later the policy changed somehow, and we were allowed to repay by yearly installments and the tiles came back.” Our comrade asked, “Who were they who carried out the Four Clean-ups? Why were they so ferocious?”

He replied that they were all from the Commune and the Yuen. “Their leader was a deputy secretary of the Party at the Yuen level, a man known for his virtue! One time I sprained my ankle, at the irrigation grounds. He came himself to visit me! Very unusual for a man of his rank. He is the only person I know of that rank. But who can recognise him during the Four Clean-ups? He was transformed, he became the cruellest of the lot. What ‘extra’! It was all forced out of me. I was compelled to make those confessions under the veil of fear!”

One remained the deputy-secretary of the Party, the other remained the deputy team captain of the Commune. Nothing changed. Only the times had changed. The care the one displayed was out of duty not of love, and his later ferocity was only to obey the call of political duty. What place did ‘class love’ have in all this — it is only a concept. The simple-minded team captain cannot grasp this dialectic, he can only say, “the man was transformed.”

The Tragedy of Chan

A friend of ours stayed at a farm in northern Kwangtung for six years. He met a man by the name of Chan there. This young man is by nature taciturn and clumsy, and smiles and talks little. He was conveniently classified as ‘backward’ for his father was a school teacher, an intellectual. His parents were struggled against and denounced in the Cultural Revolution. But he remained quiet, kind, solitary and ‘backward’. And he developed secret sentiments towards a girl in the herding brigade. When he could contain himself no longer, he wrote a fiery letter of love to this girl. The girl was a ‘poor peasant’ and therefore of impeccable family history. She was startled and scared and immediately showed the letter to her brigade (all girls). Their leader arranged for her to shame Chan in public and the incident spread. All the farm marveled at his recklessness. A man of his position daring to touch the daughter of a poor peasant family! The local party branch secretary saw fit to warn him in person, this was a gross violation indeed.

Chan realised that he was indeed outrageous and desired to leave a permanent mark to commemorate this shameful ordeal. He chose a day when there was no one around and chopped his second finger off. Our friend stumbled in and saw what had happened. Chan held his mutilated hand, shaking all over, and implored our friend not to leak out that he had chopped himself. He knew no one would spare him any pity, but only more trouble would come his way if his action was known.

This tragedy arose because Chan’s thoughts and action were detached from the reality of his life. The power of his insides caused him to fight the external realities. He forgot their differences in social standing. Such may be common in any first love, but he was not in a position to be reckless. He deserved his punishment and nobody would pity him. He was out of the personality model of his time, he was a social rebel and that was unforgivable.

Marrying for Political Convenience

Then there was another case of an attractive young girl from a clerical family. Shen went into the factory after High School and became acquainted with a young man who was the son of Indonesian Chinese, therefore a ‘friendly capitalist’. The two were in love for two years. Then the girl joined the Communist Youth League and became an office-holder and change occurred. Before she joined the League, the boy was only slightly below in social status and love made up the balance. But now she had become a party official and a popular character in her factory; her standing rose and ‘love’ evaporated. They separated before long, and this pretty and proud girl married herself to a colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, who was old enough to be her father. She was not a ‘proletarian’ and this marriage was not recommendable in the strictest sense. But she was fortunately a member of the Communist Youth League and that helped. Her fellow comrades at the factory admired her for her cleverness and luck in capturing such a husband. She thought so too, only she had no love for this good comrade colonel.

Breaking up for Political Convenience

Another girl friend of ours was lucky enough to have been transferred to a granary in Kwangtung after three years in the countryside. She came from a capitalist family. She was introduced to an ‘old worker’ of the Shao Kwan Iron and Steel Works, who was 40 and unmarried. He was then promoted to the Publicity section of the Revolutionary Committee of his factory. The two promised to marry. The old worker knew she was from a bad family but accepted her because he was afraid he could not find a better girl. The girl congratulated herself for finding a safe ‘red’ protector. They decided on the date of the wedding and notified friends and relatives. But they were happy too soon. The party officials at the granary got wind of this and wrote to the Iron and Steel Works, informing them of the girl’s origins. This committee then asked the old worker to reconsider and reconsider, and that was the end of the marriage. The girl, understandably, was very disappointed and depressed.

The Case of Ho

We have a distant relative by the name of Ho. Her grandmother was a Hollander, and she looked Eurasian, with fair hair slightly curled, deep-set eyes and high nose bridge, complexion fair; altogether a fair creature. When she was small, she accompanied her mother in land reform activities and became acquainted with a ‘little red devil’. The two quarrelled one day and the girl got out her mother’s revolver and shot at the boy’s face. The boy lost two teeth but not much harm was done. But the pair was terrified afterwards and hugged each other tightly. After their marriage the boy worked as a cadre in the Chungshan University in Kwangchow, and the girl taught at a primary school in Tungkoon Yuan, and they created a son who looked just like her grandmother. In 1957, the anti-rightist movement began and the boy was declared a rightist, driven from the Party and sent to the Northeast for labour reform. The girl was asked to state her position and she felt that the child must not suffer with them. So they decided to divorce each other and she took the child with her. The child grew older every day and she got more and more lonely. But she was reluctant to remarry because she loved her husband and their child dearly. But the ordeal was not quite over. During the Cultural Revolution, she was accused of having an incestuous relationship with her son. Mother and son were disgraced and paraded in the streets and labelled as ‘vagabonds’. Only then was the husband’s political mistake and the disgrace it brought to his family allowed to wear out, temporarily...

Some may say, “It is her own folly; she brought this on herself. Had she conceded to remarry, she would not be suspect. This is a family that is a misfit in the society, serves her right!”

The Prodigal Son

But here is a family that fits well into this society: there are five members in this particular family. The eldest son studies at the Chungshan University, and the two daughters attend High School. During the Cultural Revolution the father was defined as ‘black’. The mother divorced him for the safety of the children and married the new party secretary of her factory. She thought she had found security for herself and her children. But the son was not satisfied. He decided to sever all ties with his disgraced family — his school and society supported him. This ‘freed student’ then took his clear record with him to work at a propaganda team in the Yuan, and soon fell in love with a girl. Before this, he had had a girl friend who studied at the Peking Aeronautics School, and whose father was a cadre of high standing and who had dumped him because of the troubles of his father. Six years later, the boy received a letter from his father which said that he was ‘liberated’ and returned to his former high position and bade him to return to the family. As for matters of transfers, new postings, residence and the like, those would all be taken care of easily in view of his renewed influence and power. The boy immediately wrote to consent to the reconciliation. Soon after he bade farewell to the girl in the Yuan publicity team and returned to the girl of the Aeronautics School.

The Need for Aggression

Marxism is a powerful weapon for attacking the old order. In China when the weapon of attack succeeds in attacking itself, the Chinese communists are completely captivated by the magic of such an attack. It seems that much can be achieved by attack and Mao has adopted this activity into his body of political thought.

“Make 700 million critics out of 700 million people” was a popular slogan. In the Hundred Flowers period and in the early phase of the Cultural Revolution, this was a welcome development, for fresh air was let in through this door of criticism. But then, the reactionary tide always came in and spontaneous criticism was drowned by forced criticism.

Historically, the attempt to turn everyone into critics and attackers is no doubt a high revolutionary endeavour. The traditional Chinese character was patient and contented. All this was done away with so that 700 million fighters took their place. There is no denial that over the years, such careful cultivation through campaigns, movements, struggle meetings and reeducation has produced a far more aggressive, vicious strain of Chinese and this is one result of the personality transformation movement of Mao.

Indeed, “The philosophy of communism is a philosophy of struggle.” Yet, with this new teaching, the destructive need for aggression in man is reinforced. Originally suppressed, this destructive instinct now receives official sanction. More than that, it is now the weapon for survival, it is the hallowed spirit of the times.

The leaders have realised the importance of starting early. The need for aggression and vengeance must be nurtured from the very beginning. The shaping of the personality must start from the cradle. The following is a piece of journalism which will no doubt generate some thinking:

“Early last year (1965) Nanking Army Division’s 1st August Nursery carried out a penetrative revolution on child-rearing and child education.

“First, they examined the aim and content of the education with the tool of ‘class analysis’.... ‘the surroundings should be comfortable and pleasant, protection must be given and advocated, the content should be fairy tales, children’s tales, wild life tales.... when the children watch a movie, they know not how to hate the landlord!’ This is something the Party must not overlook.

“Can we bring class education to children between ages three and seven, and how is this to be carried out? This is the new question... Consequently, they let children see the broadswords, whips and bloodied remains of the Kuomintang killings. After a period of education, the children, on seeing the ugly faces of the landlords on film or paper, know how to stamp their feet and point their finger and shout, ‘Death to you, rogue!’ This is a delightful reaction, shouldn’t we be joyous?....A child drew a Yankee with one leg. The teacher asked why and he replied: ‘The other was shot off by uncle Vietnam.’ Others reached out to tear Johnson’s eyes off when they saw his portrait in a gallery.” (“Great Revolution in Child Education” from “Women of China”, 1966, issue 11)

Pleasant surroundings and children’s tales are designed to cultivate and reinforce the healthy needs of order, affiliation and nurturance in young children. But these do not suit the new society. Children of the new society must be brought up with broadswords, whips and bloody cloths so that they would know how to draw crippled enemies and want to tear out the eyes of a hostile President. Let us look at another lively article which sets out the new form of child-rearing. It is written by a commune teacher in Shansi.

“...Take for example the fighting of young children. In the past I considered all fighting unallowable and stopped many a fight accordingly, unwittingly hurting many young hearts. Now I try to make them understand....that the fist and the gun can be pointed to the reactionary. Now when I impart knowledge of crimes committed by these anti-Party, anti-socialist rightists, they clench their fists and yell ‘vile eggs’. The children sometimes draw chalk figures on the ground and stamp on them, taking off their shoes to beat them. When I ask them who they are beating, they invariably reply, ‘Wu Han, Teng Toh.’ and I say, ‘Well done!’” (from “Women of China”, 1966, issue 11)

More recently, the Kiangsu Province Broadcasting Station released a news item on 12th June 1976, which said:

“...the one hundred-odd little fighters that took part in the little red brigade performance in the Amateur Cultural Concert enacted the fearless revolutionary fervour of the forefathers in the Soviets — all charged forward and fought with Hsiao-peng — highest bravery against the enemy, Teng Hsiao Peng and his ‘reverse verdict wind’. Although their average age is not quite ten, they have produced within a short seven days, 299 critiques, 271 revolutionary nursery rhymes, 12 columns, and organised 14 criticism meetings. The ‘Criticize Teng’ revolutionary fervour is at its highest. It is just as what one song says: ‘Do not say we are small / We are all little cannons / Everywhere is our battlefield / We will fell our enemy, Teng Hsiao-peng.’”

These children are not just mounting fire on Teng, they are moreover reinforcing their need for aggression at the most malleable developmental stage.

How about those that are non-aggressive?

In every school, factory, department, division there exist some ‘backward elements’ who are commonly quiet, sensitive, sentimental, merciful, generous and kind, who prefer cautious, objective observation to quick value judgements, who would readily put themselves in other peoples’ shoes, look not only at the result but also at intention, who are gentle to the fallen, and who are not keen at publicising themselves nor publicly denouncing anyone, who would shoulder the blame to protect a comrade. These people are destined to be left behind the times. Their records often carry such descriptions as “low political consciousness, dim-witted, unenthusiastic towards political activities, timorous fighter, position unsound,” etc. Seldom are they allowed into the Communist Youth League or the Party itself. They are in fact the object of change in reform movements. Their presence dampens the fire of revolution and makes society ‘unhappy’ because they pursue the needs for nurturance and for scrutiny and lack the need for aggression. Their gentleness is in marked contrast to the official ideal of ‘youthful fire’.

The promotion of the need for aggression is pushed on a societal level by massive political campaigns, and every political campaign is ignited and fueled by such mass aggression.

Every person can attack and be attacked. Every parent, elder, friend and relation is susceptible to attack for “the revolution has just begun, the struggle has no end”. This fear of being attacked dwells in every heart. To accomodate this fear and gnawing insecurity, one has to arm oneself with hostility towards family and beloved, to be aggressive, and ready to disown one’s closest ally at the turn of the wind, so that one would not be too hurt when the unavoidable happens. Many attempt to hide this fear behind heroic acts of denial in order to gain the safety of popular approval and hence security. Here is one such instance, an autobiographical article in “China Youth”:

“I was born into a bourgeois intellectual family... my parents expected me to carry on the scholarly tradition of the family. We live fastidiously and are utterly capitalistic ... Our family of five occupied 7 houses and every meal consisted of several meat dishes, and several vegetable dishes. As long as they were nourishing, the cost didn’t count. There must be fruit after each meal. Sometimes when I put on a coat that was slightly worn-out, my grandma would reprimand me, ‘Other people pine for new clothes but cannot have them, you have good clothes but cast them aside, dressing up like a devil.’ They treasured me greatly and I was not allowed to get too much sun or rain. Growing up in this environment sowed and cultivated the seeds of capitalism in me, fostered in me the great wish of following in my father’s footsteps, to climb up and up to be a great scientist...

“For the past few years, I have been educated by the Party...I began to realise the selfishness and hypocrisy of my grandmother and my parents. After I entered the last year of high school, I followed the Party’s wishes and decided to go into agriculture. My family were astounded when I broke the news of my intentions and they tried to mislead me. My father said hypocritically: ‘The Party calls for a red heart, but there can be two kinds of preparation...You are my daughter, you must get into the University or else you are not my daughter.’

“‘What do I care if I am not your daughter, I will be the good daughter of the Party.’

“Where do I get the strength to resist my family? Undoubtedly from the Party, from teacher Wu and classmates, from the works of Chairman Mao — from the glorious image of the heroes.” (“Breaking loose the shackles of the family to become a good daughter of the Party.” China Youth, 1964, issue 21)

Needless to say, she gets the support of the society while her parents get the kicks. But compared to others, she still has a long way to go to become the Party’s good daughter.

There is another girl, Lo. Her parents work at the Chung Shan Medical College. Her family is understandably well-off and she was well cared for. As she grew older, she began to comprehend some of the rules of right conduct: new clothing needs to be ripped open at places and patched before it can be worn, new shoes have to be treated in a similar way. By the second year of High School, she had learnt to denounce her parents’ capitalistic way of living to her class mistress. She was praised by the school and started to report on her parents’ conversations and activities, sending letters to her school and to her parents’ workplace. But at the time of the Cultural Revolution, when heredity and family background were the sole determinants of a person, her early rebellion was forgotten and people used the same maxim of ‘reactionary father, rascal son’ on her, and she was persecuted accordingly. She was shut up, beaten and interrogated by the members of the ‘five red categories’ in her class. Out of intense hatred for her family, she wrote a 20 page accusation letter, accusing her father of having been a Kuomintang field doctor, and of having committed unpardonable crimes, and asked that she be released in order to observe her parents at home. It was permitted and she kicked up a scene on her first day home, screaming that her parents were ‘evil poison’ and posted big character posters outside their house, demanding, ordering her father to submit a confession within 24 hours. Large crowds gathered around the house.

The father was a Kuomintang field doctor who had voluntarily crossed to the communist side in his early days and the Party had then cleared his record. He never dreamt that his daughter could shame him politically in this way. He ran to lie on the rails on that same night and a passing train cut his body into several parts. The Lo girl took this as suicide out of desperate fear and declared that she would have nothing more to do with her family. The Party supported her and she was listed as an ‘orphan’, a most prized status in society.

This is not just aggression, but mania. But still, Lo, like others before and after her, was searching for the same thing, for the recognition and acceptance of society. They hope that in this way they can conquer the feelings of inadequacy, guilt and desertion which come of resisting the standards laid down by society. The Lo girl did not live happily ever after. In fact, after she destroyed her family, the object for her projection was gone and she became very disturbed, pathological, even. Her confessions, repentance notes and self-accusations to the Party became more and more frequent, she signed herself the ‘7th black category of bitches’ and told her friends that the five red categories were right in manhandling her for she was deserving and totally unforgivable.

This is not self-denial, it is the complete loss of self-dignity.

Apprehension And Terror

When one of us was in High School, the school used to organise students to help in the fields in the busy harvest time. “We lived, ate and worked with the peasants (called the ‘three togethers’). One day, I was having the noonday meal, when one of us found a caterpillar in the rice. After looking around, I did not notice anyone spitting out worms and I thought: why was it that other people had not seen any worms but him? I felt it was feelings of class distinction involving my political standpoint, therefore I closed my eyes and swallowed the worm. Looking back, I see that what motivated my behaviour then was political fear, I was afraid my standpoint and consciousness would be ‘incorrect’.”

Then there was the production team captain that committed no crime, political or otherwise, but threw himself into the pond out of sheer apprehension of what was to come — instances of “did nothing wrong, very frightened, better dead than alive” suicide cases were numerous to the point of reaching the hundred thousands. During the Cultural Revolution, such irrational fear alone induced over 100,000 suicides, averaging five thousand per province!

We have experienced other unforgettable incidents. In the suburban farm of Kwangchow were 990 fresh high school graduates who joined the fun at the start of the Cultural Revolution. Then came the massacre. They were driven to an empty barn in a valley ditch and watched night and day. Three hundred militiamen from nearby villages, 100 PLA men and yuan commanders descended on them, and struggled with 600 of them. Then a strange incident occurred.

One night, the nine hundred were assembled at short notice to face armed troops. Some thirty names were called and were hauled away and bound thoroughly and forced to kneel. The commanders proclaimed them to be members of the ‘Taiwanese Anti-Communist Save the Country Army’ and they were beaten mercilessly for several days and nights. Ten days later, the truth surfaced. The thirty names had been ‘revealed’ by a lad of unsound mind to disrupt the monotonous routine of the ‘study camp’ (prison camp).

Two days later, another incident occurred. At breakfast time, two students were seen carrying a large red bundle which turned out to be the body of a suicide victim. No emotion, surprise or fear was expressed by any of the 900. Five hundred of these were girls, most of them between the age of sixteen to seventeen and all were nonchalant. I was one of the five hundred and I experienced a complete blank at the time. I asked and felt nothing, the only thought that surfaced was “Better dead,” and even that thought faded immediately.

The Authoritarian Conscience

“There is no prouder statement man can make than to say: ‘I shall act according to my conscience.’ Throughout history men have upheld the principles of justice, love, and truth against every kind of pressure brought to bear upon them in order to make them relinquish what they knew and believed. The prophets acted according to their conscience when they denounced their country and predicted its downfall because of its corruption and injustice. Socrates preferred death to a course in which he would have betrayed his conscience by compromising the truth. Without the existence of conscience, the human race would have bogged down long ago in its hazardous course.

“Different from these men are others who also have claimed to be motivated by their conscience: the men of the Inquisition who burned men of conscience at the stake, claiming to do so in the name of their own conscience; the predatory warmakers claiming to act on behalf of their conscience when they put their lust for power above all other considerations. In fact, there is hardly any act of cruelty or indifference to others or oneself which has not been rationalized as the dictate of conscience, which shows the power of conscience in its need to be placated.” (Erich Fromm, ‘Man for Himself’ — An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics)

But how do we recognise and distinguish these two kinds of conscience? Fromm goes on to say:

“Humanistic conscience is the expression of man’s self-interest and integrity, while authoritarian conscience is concerned with man’s obedience, self-sacrifice, duty, or his ‘social adjustment’. The goal of humanistic conscience is productiveness and, therefore, happiness, since happiness is the necessary concomitant of productive living. To cripple oneself by becoming a tool of others, no matter how dignified they are made to appear, to be ‘selfless’, unhappy, resigned, discouraged, is in opposition to the demands of one’s conscience; any violation of the integrity and proper functioning of our personality, with regard to thinking as well as acting, and even with regard to such matters as taste for food or sexual behaviour is acting against one’s own conscience.” (Erich Fromm, ‘Man for Himself)

‘Obedience’, ‘self-sacrifice’, ‘duty’, ‘social adjustment’, ‘selfless’: these terms are all very familiar. The first posters that we see, the first books we learn to read in primary school, summer exercises, diaries, teachers, films are all screaming such terms at us all the time — remould yourself, remould yourself, until we are remorseful, disturbed, tearful and frustrated, for we cannot reach the pure and noble image, nor can we feel good, satisfied, contented, and have sweet dreams for what we have done to approximate the ideal figure.

What is the ideal figure like? Here are some excerpts from the diary of Comrade Lei Fung, ‘the great communist fighter’.

“Oh my great party...all mine is yours. I will bow to your wishes always, will consecrate all my energy to serve you and be your ever faithful son.” (8th November, 1960)

“I awoke happily this morning, for last night I dreamt of our great leader, Chairman Mao Tse-tung. And today is the 40th Anniversary of our Party’s Birthday. Today, I have so many words I want to say to the Party that I will never finish; I am determined to give all my life to the Party....

“On this great day, as I remember the past, I feel charging excitement, for the Party has educated me to become a real proletarian, the Party has given me the ability to ‘serve the people’. But I have contributed too little. Dear Party, mother dear, I will be your loyal son always, and go forward with all the vigor in me, for you, I will be studious, diligent in my work and study and not spare myself but contribute all I have to build socialism and realise communism. I will not spare my life even.” (1st July, 1961)

“I will splash blood and be faithful to the Party. For the revolution in the highest interest of the class, I am ready to charge out any moment and give all, all that is mine.” (1st July, 1962)

“Now that I have studied the four volumes of collected works of Mao Tse-tung, I know how to be a man, I know who I live for. I understand that I am alive for others, so that others may live a better life because of me.” (26th November, 1961)

“One must be honest and loyal to the Party and the People. To the enemy, the more cunning the better.” (4th March, 1961)

“We must be ruthless to the enemy, be chilly and bleak as the severest winter. We must be true and honest to the Party and to the People. I will be true always to Party and People.” (from ‘Chinese Youth’ 1965, issue 5–6; reprinted in the People’s Daily, March 5, 6, 7, 8, 1977)

The diary should be the trust record of a person, carrying the most honest aspirations of its owner. Lei Fung has left us a portrait of his conscience in these excerpts. We discover that Lei’s ‘conscience’ reflects a very close relationship with an external authority, the Party and Chairman Mao, who are in turn internalised to become Lei’s conscience itself. This internalisation of external authority, is precisely the authoritarian conscience we are discussing. It stems from the worship and awe inspired by authority. For Lei it develops from the gratitude and worship he has for the Party. In practise, it forces one to obey the rules of the authority. For Lei, these rules come out of Mao’s ethical teachings, selfless loyalty to Party and Chairman. “Content to be a screw in the works, existing for others”; “the more cunning to the enemy the better”; “cruel to the enemy as the severest winter”, etc. And it is precisely this kind of authoritarian conscience, with the same set of ethical rules, that the Chinese communist government is working to instil into the People. All along, Lei Fung and like characters have been elevated to the position of the ideal communist man, the perfect hero, the example for every child to follow.

In actuality, Lei Fung’s act of internalising authoritarian conscience does create a kind of integrity, or helps to produce a feeling of integrity. A feeling which not only the orphan Lei Fung, but also the white haired grandpa intellectual, and even the red scarved kid will need. Thus by creating and cultivating this authoritarian conscience into the personality model, the Party has built an internal control into the People, which forces them to ‘voluntarily’ succumb to the wishes of the regime.

On the one hand there is aggressive social pressure, on the other hand there is this need for acceptance, to be satisfied. Where can a man turn? He cannot escape. Thus they sing after Lei Fung:

The greatest gardener of our Eden is Mao Tse-tung

Our will of life is Mao Tse-tung

Mao Tse-tung looks after our growing-up

You are our most respected father and Teacher

Long Live, Long Live, Long Live, Long Live Mao Tse-tung!

(a ‘pop’ song, originally by Lei Fung)

Sing a model for the Party

Comparing the Party with my mother,

I see that mother gave me only a mortal body

But the Party gave me light in my heart.

(from Lei Fung Diaries)

“Mother and Father are dear, but none is dearer than Chairman Mao,” became the new ethic and through the popular need for integrity through union with authoritarian conscience, the ethic established itself firmly in many young hearts. Thus the Lo girl was led to desert her parents for the Party, thus she was driven to rip up new clothes and pierce new shoes. Thus she was driven to compulsive self-denial and self-persecution. Her pathology is the creation of such a conscience.

One of my classmates has a father who was a poor peasant. He was forcibly conscripted by the Kuomintang during the Sino-Japanese War but escaped from the army at the start of the KMT-CP civil war. But his record is already muddied, and he was classified as a case of ‘contradiction among the people’. During the Cultural Revolution the daughter began to query his past and was encouraged by the school to investigate. After one month of diligent enquiries, made possible by letters of introduction to the various authorities, it was discovered that he was once a KMT colonel and therefore ‘must have the People’s blood on his hands’. She asked the government to punish her father severely, and he was clapped into prison. That was in 1966. After the Cultural Revolution, she revealed that those discoveries were actually made-up to express her loyalty.

“But you were not forced to submit such a report!”

“I had to be faithful to the Party. That was the only thought that occupied my mind then.”

Anything can be done in the name of socialism — and be accepted by the people who have adopted the authoritarian conscience as their own.

You may remember the Tang Shan earthquake of 1976, when 660,000 lost their lives. In the People’s Daily of 25th August, there was an account of a Party member:

“The severe tremor had just passed. A standing member of the City Council, Chu Chun-meng, climbed out of the rubble of a collapsed stonehouse. His 16 year old son and 13 year old daughter screamed from under the rockpile, “Father, help me quick!” Chu turned to save his children but heard the calls of Yu Kwong-yu across the wall. Yu was the Party Secretary of the Lu Pei District of Tang Shan. The earth was still quaking and time was life. In this critical moment, how should a member of the Party act? Chu told his wife decidedly, “I’ll save old Yu first.” After Yu and his family were released, Yu asked hurriedly, “How are your children?” Chu said, “Never mind them. You are the district Party Secretary, start organising the relief work for this district.” Chu returned to where his children were, but they were already gone. He was not sorry, felt no grief and was not discouraged.” “In Tang Shan, glorious Party members like Chu are innumerable.” (from “The Wondrous Central Force”, People’s Daily, 25 August, 1976)

To be able to leave the trapped kids and go across the wall to save the Secretary, no matter how noble this may be, nevertheless casts horror and despair into our hearts. Imagine the 16-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl calling ‘Father, help us quick!’ and the father replying, ‘Never mind them,’ — and you know the power of the authoritarian conscience.

His behaviour cannot be explained in terms of class analysis, since his children were not class enemies, nor of the five black categories. The only explanation for his determination to leave them at a time when every second counts is that these kids were his own. If these were a neighbour’s kid, as long as they were not reactionaries, it would be alright. The issue is ‘ethical duty’. The report did not reveal whether the survival of the Secretary and family depended on his aid, but it can be ascertained that his saving them came not of life. “In the critical moment, how should a Party member act?” He should leave his kids. For this he was duly praised by the Party and was at peace with his social conscience. He may be a noble Party member but he is not ‘human’. He is only a human being who has lost the ability to love.

Returning to more mundane, everyday matters, which are fantastically bewildering. During the Great Leap Forward — “Paddy yields over 10,000 kilos per mu!”, “Fat pig over 6,000 catties!”, “Iron smelting in the country stove!”: such fairy tales appeared as headlines on the first page of the Party Central newspapers. The editor must have had admirable courage. Yet no one dared point out the outrage. Some may have chosen to be silent, but most people were carried away by the soaring flames of fanaticism, the spirit of the Great Leap Forward ruled supreme.

“The commune where I worked during the Great Leap Forward was one of the advanced models and visits by foreign guests were frequent. To impress visitors, corn was ‘sowed’ in front of the barn door, and visitors were amazed at the productivity of the bumper harvests, that there was actually an overflow of corn out of the barns. Up till 1969 (10 years after the GLF), the commune peasants were still referring to the incident with relish. There was not the slightest indication that people had seen through the hypocrisy involved, instead, there was the prideful, “We have been something, haha!” These peasants were still very much charmed by the “3 Red Flags” of the GLF.

Although three years of famine followed the GLF, when many died of hunger, the Chinese Exports Fair still opened its doors. Those were exciting seasons for the Kwangchow people. Vacuum flasks reappeared after a very long absence, the shop-windows of department stores were transformed, good quality tobacco appeared, lo and behold, even bicycles. In the city market, the stalls were full of vegetables and fruits; the butchery had whole pigs on its tables, and rows and rows of fish sat neatly at the fishmongers’.

“These are magnificent tomatoes, what price?”

“Exhibits! For the glory of the socialist motherland!”

The reply was made with confidence and authority and was received with grace and understanding. “For the socialist motherland,” that is, for the glory of every Chinese.

Many visitors, looking at the corn outside the barn door, looking at the television sets in the homes, looking at the preserved duck of Nanking, red tomatoes, potatoes and adorable kids with pink cheeks and bows in their hair, say, “Surely this cannot be a sham! They are not dumb idiots! They are not string puppets!” We congratulate one who remarks thus, for he is fortunate to have spent his life in an open society and to be unable to understand the totalitarian personality. But every one (mark my words: each and every one) who has grown up in China will have experienced at least one such fairy tale.

We were told how a documentary was made when we were posted to a Shan Shui Yuan commune. The friend had seen the making of a medical documentary on “the mobilisation of the masses to rout out parasites”. A five minute shot was to be made. All members of the commune were instructed to put on their Sunday best. Those who did not have better clothing were told to borrow some. Then the whole commune (several thousand strong) was assembled on the fields and dispersed in all directions. The crew adjusted positions and camera and picked out the most robust youths and pretty girls to stand in front. The order was given and the thousands hauled, pushed, and dragged at top speed. Dust flew as feet sped. It seemed an army was approaching. After the five minutes’ was over, the order, ‘Stop!’ was given and the whole commune went on holiday for one day. This 5 minute truthful documentary was shown in cinemas throughout the country and the world, and made out to show the everyday, spontaneous vigor of socialist man.

The thousands did not feel any misgiving for acting in a documentary. Conversely, if one of them had moved with less haste, or dressed with less care, he would have been criticised for his lack of enthusiasm, or even for sabotaging “socialist construction.”

From the above accounts, it should be clear that the ‘authoritarian conscience’ causes one to curry favour with the authority in order to be accepted and ‘crime’ becomes that which is against the authoritarian will. And the most serious crime is precisely the rebellion against authority, and obedience, contrarily, is the greatest virtue. (We should remember that the politicians are the authoritarians. It is no crime, sometimes even a virtue, to oppose intellectual writers, physicists, literati, and the like.)

We will not burden you with any more cruel and tortuous memories. We hope the understanding of conceptions of crime in authoritarian conscience will help to make the absurdity and cruelty and harshness comprehensible. For it can be imagined what treatment the enemies of the Party receive, since the Party wills that they be treated with coldness as of the severest winter. Indeed all writings, pro-, anti-, neutral, leftist, rightist, and comprehensive, acknowledge the legitimacy of such violence towards enemies. People have become used to such phenomena.

The dictatorship of the people is only a synonum for ‘red terror’, because of the authoritarian personality of its members. And a class dictatorship without a group of authoritarians is unthinkable. After the establishment of a class dictatorship, the absence of a group of authoritarian supporters is also unthinkable. And “the natural disappearance of the class dictatorship” is only the wishful thinking of intellectuals with no real understanding of authoritarianism. This preposition reveals their own liberty and their ignorance of man’s nature.

“Rebellion is the greatest crime in the authoritarian society.” Once this is understood we know why victims of a political campaign remain victims even when they are later found to be “correct” through other campaigns, e.g. those who opposed Lin Piao or the Gang of Four. For their despicable crime is not the reactionary opposition to a particular person or matter but that they dare to oppose, setting a very hard example. Their actions are not commensurate with the personality model, the authoritarian constructed for the society, and he is therefore an enemy of the society, which is an eternal sin.

Look at the Cultural Revolution. That is the strongest answer! Mao used the CR to smash the old authoritarian personality. But the bureaucrats’ ultimatum, and the awakening of the People’s own conscience prevented him from installing his new religious personality model and anarchism reigned over the country. “Lei Fung is gone” — the faithful sighed. The old times are silenced with Mao gone and the Gang of Four erased, the bureaucrats have reinstated their ideology and praise Uncle Lei Fung again. The ‘Learn from Lei Fung Popular Movement’ has appeared, an attempt to rescue the pre-CR authoritarian personality. But times have changed, people can see that Lei Fung is no longer the great.

During the Cultural Revolution the fearsome external authority weakened its hold on the hearts and minds of the People, the authoritarian conscience was rapidly blurred and inactivated, and a reaction took place — more and more people now took themselves as the ultimate and final authority! Whether this new Lei Fung Movement will re-establish the authoritarian conscience has yet to be seen. But this is irrefutable: that the authoritarian conscience instilled by the Party has wrought great harm to the integrity of the Chinese personality and the spirit of the Chinese People.

Several times in history, the authoritarian conscience has conquered the humanistic conscience, but always only for short periods. The humanistic conscience has never deserted and even in times of mortal peril, it points the way to self-love.

The Religious Personality

Why is it essential for the rulers to develop religious properties in the social personality? Religion makes one feel that one is carrying the cross; and with this spiritual support, man can accept the dehumanised society, or even explain and beautify the situation in which he finds himself. At the same time, religion can divert people’s anger and hatred for the rulers into their own self-examinations. Religion turns men into sinners. Religion turns the rebellious Masses who have immense hatred for the rulers into dependent, worshipping slaves of the latter. The more authoritarian society is, the more successful a religious personality may be moulded. How is this religious social personality created out of people’s life? The suffering masses, in their resistance and reaction to the miseries of their social life, come to a feeling of utter hopelessness in such an autocratic society, so that they would rather depend on religion. Men will only rise and rebel when society is less autocratic. When the Chinese communists first set up their regime, people thought they would bring an ideal society. But the Chinese communists never realised their promises and the people felt that after all that bloodshed and struggle, they had simply left one hell and plunged into another slightly better hell. They were totally disappointed and felt that rebelling against the rulers provided no solutions. The only way then was to embrace the regime, and in doing so they had to rely on religion for support in the controlled society.

The religious personality is highly idealistic. People believe that the society is progressing to a better state, but they do not know what it is that they want. All they have is faith in themselves and in sayings like, “Communism is heaven, socialism is Jacob’s ladder,” or “Chairman Mao waves and I go forward”. No one really knows, or cares to find out, what is true socialism. The idealism of this generation is the transformation of the spirit of the people brought about by Mao Tse-tung.

To the West, idealism means humanism and something that is desirable. On account of their experience, westerners have no idea of totalitarian idealism, which can be characterised by the believer’s passionlessness and dependence on the figurehead. This kind of idealism defies the will of pursuit, and refutes knowledge of the self. This is the situation of China in the Mao Tse-tung era. In a spring Trade Fair, a man from another province saw a display of tomatoes in the Canton market, and asked to buy a catty. The seller replied that the tomatoes, which acclaimed the glory of Chairman Mao and were the pride of the society, were not for sale. In this common and yet so uncommon reply, the blindness of the people under the great idealism is well demonstrated. What did the people become? The reaction of the intellectual youths to this great idealism was blind fervour and blind sacrifice. Before the Cultural Revolution, they thought it was worthwhile and glorifying to suffer and sacrifice for their motherland. They gave up their studentships even after they had been admitted, to work in rural communities. But how did the farmers educate them? A 15-year-old girl, having graduated from junior high, refused to attend senior high but preferred to follow older youths and work in the countryside. She was as courageous as the Red Guards who crossed the mountain with indomitable strength. In her enthusiasm, unswayed by her family’s objection, she left for a small Hakka mountain village. The villagers all thought that she did not understand the dialect, but before long she had learnt it. She found out that the farmers, appearing to welcome her, actually resented her — a city dweller who had the best of everything, coming to the village to take a share of what little they had. The farmers had not intended to torture the girl, but it was just a fact of life. In another instance, a group of young people who came from different backgrounds went to a village commune with the intention of building up the village. They found that in order to introduce socialism to the villagers, the policies set by the regime were insufficient. They wanted to show the farmers a paradise, but the farmers did not want it. The village community thought they were trouble-makers. They were cruelly beaten and were looked upon as counter-revolutionaries. Their conclusion was: in this society, even though idealism is advocated, the higher your ideals, the more you are oppressed.

This numbness in the people did not exist when communism first took over the country. In the early years, many intellectual youths came forward to express their views on an ideal society. The people were prepared to seek and experiment. But when Mao Tse-tung first utilized political power to create a totalitarian idealism, those raising objections were looked upon as counter-revolutionaries. After numerous suppressions, the People became unfeeling, and Idealism became a popular slogan. And now, Chinese peopel cannot even maintain self-respect, not to say personal ideals. Intellectuals like Kuo Muo-jo are held in contempt by the literary circle. Have they indeed no ideals? It is not that they are so degraded as to give away their self-respect, but rather that the society has not allowed them to save any ideals.

Those living outside China often adopt an attitude of objectivity and apathy when they criticise China. They refer to those youths who escape to Hong Kong as ‘scum’. It cannot be denied that some of them have bad habits, yet should they be held responsible for it? One should therefore speak from the point of view of a human being when discussing the affairs of China or criticising the people, instead of that of an apathetic spectator.

Another characteristic of the religious personality is hero-worship. If the basic structure of society is a collectivism in which the single uniting force is power, it will shatter many people. It is this feeling of impotence that gives rise to hero-worship. Only the embracing of a hero can give direction and support in the people’s lives. It was under these circumstances that Mao Tse-tung, on his pedestal, very successfully became the god of the people.

A good example would be Mui Hsien-teh, who was badly injured while carrying out his duties in Hainan. He could not recognise his parents, but he would cry out ‘Long Live Chairman Mao’ when a portrait of Mao was brought near. On this account, Yet Chien-ying paid him a visit, was impressed and spread word around to tell people to learn from him. Everyone praised him. Should not a free man, or Mao Tse-tung himself, hearing Of such an incident from 7 hundred million people, feel ashamed! Is it not a tragedy?

There was another student who, in a high fever, recited the writings of Mao. He was admired by everyone and was looked upon as a model countryman. The hospital diagnosed him to be an acute case of schizophrenia. An analysis of his social background showed that he was born of an intellectual family. His parents were school teachers which was slightly better than landowners and capitalists. From the psychological point of view he broke down under the pressure.

One other characteristic of the religious personality is selflessness. Anything that suppresses the self, the id, forms the core of Mao’s standard of ethical values. This standard of ethics manifests itself in a selfless personality. This is not the sublime state reached through true religiousity, but a cruel suppression of desires brought about by force. Mao Tse-tung exemplifies it with, “firstly, fear not suffering, secondly, fear not death”. During the Cultural Revolution, a newsletter from a high school recorded the following: a pot of soup served at lunch had a small piece of meat floating in it. Students were attracted but all conscientiously avoided this morsel when they filled their bowls. The officer from the Branch of the League was watching the proceedings till one student unintentionally ladled it into his bowl. The student instantly became pale with fear, while the officer glared at him. This student unavoidably became the object of attack. He was boycotted and later went into a stupor. The intention of the newsletter was to point out the officer’s lack of concern for the people. Viewed from the present, it belied the spirit of the times. How should the question of material needs be handled? The indulgence of the West undoubtedly merits criticism. But similarly, Suppression of material desires, resulting in psychological abnormality, which is then considered normal, is equally obnoxious meriting criticism as well.

During the reign of Mao Tse-tung, China could be called a moral society. Suppression of sex seemed to be an answer. But on closer observation, are Chinese people special? Do they need the opposite sex, or are they puritans or moralists, as they are thought of by Western society? The inhibition China has fostered towards sex is as abnormal as the licentiousness of the West. The policies and advocates of dictatorship have strangled the need for emotional interaction between the sexes. For a whole generation, sex has become fearful, with guilty feelings. A group of youths were assigned to work in a village in Hainan. One of them chanced to see the naked body of a girl when he passed the dormitory and was strangely excited. After this incident, unaware of what was happening, he had sexual relations with the girl. She got pregnant and out of fear, she confessed to her superiors and stirred up hatred for the young man. These incidents are very common. The sexual awakening that comes with maturity usually gives the young people a feeling of guilt. Those with strong self-discipline usually become mentally disturbed, and in behaviour, become stupefied; those who are of a nervous disposition become slaves of guilt feelings.

But, it might be asked, does society really need to punish these ‘amoralists’? The method employed by the masses was unnecessarily gross.

There were two students who were from intellectual families. Both liked Western classical literature. They often talked to each other. As their thinking was more open, they were criticised by their classmates. They became the target of attack in a political struggle, and were paraded along the streets with black placards hung around their necks. The crowd was gleeful when the two were made to demonstrate their intimacy. The psychology of the masses showed that they condemned ‘immoral behaviour’, yet in their own behaviour they were vulgar.

This study on the mass psychology of the Chinese people under the rule of the new Mandarins has not yet been completed. The authors are preparing a final version in which more aspects of the mass psychology will be discussed and elaborated.

Photo Caption: Wang Chun-i, a worker in the Shanghai First People’s Hospital, put up a big character poster in Shanghai in July 1977, accusing the Vice-Chairman of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee of having invented a false case so that Wang was condemned as counter-revolutionary. Wang was jailed at various times and in 1971, he was imprisoned with his hands handcuffed at the back for fifty days. He was administered electric shocks for forty-five days and given drugs.


[1] Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

[2] Shengwulien, “Whither China?”, collected in The Revolution is Dead; Long Live the Revolution.

[3] This discussion is largely based on the article “On Monopolistic Capital in China” written by an ex-Red Guard. Such analysis of the economic system of China as summarised is widely adopted by educated youths in the country. The original article appeared in issue No. 3 of the Northern Star magazine and the English translation in Minus 7, September/October 1977issue.

[4] See Autobiography of Chan Pei Lan, Chinese trotskyist affiliated with the United Secretariat of the Fourth International, and wife of Peng Shu-tse. The autobiography has yet to be published (Pathfinder Press).

[5] On the Fu-tien affair, see Autobiography of Kung Chor and monograph of the Michigan China Study Centre on the subject.

[6] Smarlo Ma, Struggling For 18 Years, published in Hong Kong; the book is readily available from author Ma who resides in Hong Kong.

[7] Lin Hsi-ling was a student at the “People’s University” and a prominent critic of the new mandarins during the period of Hundred Flowers Bloom. The quotation came from a speech that she made in a debate.

[8] Yang Hsi-kwang actually drafted the famous Shengwulien manifesto “Whither China?” The quotation came from “Whither China?”

[9] See different issues of Minus 7 for more information about Li I-che. The quotation came from the big character poster “Concerning Socialist Democracy and Legal system.”

[10] Information on the corruption and extravagant life-style was so abundant in the Chinese official press, e.g. the People’s Daily, Peking Review, etc. etc. that what have been quoted were but a small fraction of the available information. To what extent can such accusations be accepted as true and accurate? One would expect exaggerations at times but the fundamental point is that the Mandarins possess an endless list of privileges.

[11] See preceding note.

[12] See preceding note.

[13] From Red Guard publications during the Cultural Revolution.

[14] From Red Guard publications during the Cultural Revolution. Tao Chu so far has not yet been rehabilitated.

[15] Simon Leys, Chinese Shadows.

[16] See Minus 8, July/August 1976.

[17] See photographs in Appendix. The photographs were taken by a foreign correspondent in Shanghai.