In Commemoration of the Twenty-eighth Anniversary of the Communist Party of China, June 30, 1949
By Mao Tse-Tung
Critique by Punkerslut
"Anyone who has tasted the miseries of poverty in his own youth and has experienced the indifference and arrogance of the well-to-do, should be safe from the suspicion of having no understanding or good will towards endeavors to fight against the inequality of wealth among men and all that it leads to."
China's one-party, "Communist" government holds its firm power today because of the revolution fought by many self-described socialist revolutionaries. Mao Tse-Tung, a staunch Leninist, would accomplish the goal of overthrowing the government and gaining power over the state. Under the spread of the Socialist and progressive ideas, the common man began to identify his social situation very differently. He is not a free agent, the economic conditions which affect him are caused by private property, and the media and all schools have always been the lapdog of the current status quo. The socially aware proletariat begins to doubt the words of the authorities, believing in his heart that the miserable condition which he suffers is caused by the Capitalism system and the absence of a Socialist order.
Capitalism created unbelievable poverty and misery for the working class of China. Adam Smith wrote, "In all great towns several [infants] are every night exposed in the street, or drowned like puppies in the water. The performance of this horrid office is even said to be the avowed business by which some people earn their subsistence." [*2] Dire poverty and want of food will drive desperate men to crime, but where that fails, families are forced to make decisions like who can eat or who cannot eat. Thomas Malthus wrote...
Capitalist China always has been an enemy of the working class, producing some very unbelievable tragedy. China had two wars with Britain in the 1800's over opium. The Chinese wanted to ban it while the British continued to rake in great profits. The Capitalist system ultimate effect is the decay of Democracy. When an economy is organized with a few elites controlling everything, then all political, social, and educational institutions will reflect their attitudes and opinions. In this case, the Chinese lost their political autonomy, the right to control their fate as a culture and a society, because Western business interests sought to establish these high profit markets and for absolutely no other reason. In the late 1800's, Chinese Nationalists formed what became known as the Boxer Movement. When the movement was finally destroyed by eight national powers, China was forced to pay $333 million in "war reparations." Once again, the poor working class of this country was forced to labor to pay for the luxury and development of Western civilization. To ignore the lessons that Capitalism has taught through hundreds of Chinese history would be to seek a truly cultural suicide for the Chinese people.
Do things have to be like this? Most revered economists who have covered the Capitalist economy rarely make a statement on the way things ought to be, or the ways things should be. The economist's sole job has and always will be to examine, understand, and interpret the forces that move an economy. Karl Marx's relevance is due to the fact that he combined the role of the economist and the philosopher -- he understood the situation as it existed and then offered a better plan of social organization. In other words, more than just an economist or philosopher, Marx was a visionary. One year before working on the Manifesto of the Communist Party, he wrote, "The existence of a class which possess nothing but the ability to work is a necessary presupposition of capital." [*4] In 1848, he wrote, "The landowner in the strict sense, who is neither a peasant nor a tenant farmer, has no share in production. Consumption on his part is, therefore, nothing but abuse." [*5] The highly acclaimed manifesto was translated into a thousand languages and discussed by hundreds of millions. His words in the eighteenth century were just as true then as they are today...
While Karl Marx was certainly not the first Communist or Socialist, his research in the field of economics marked a defining moment for all revolutionary movements of the world. In the late 1800's, we saw many brave, strong people carrying the sentiment of Socialism wherever the question of politics was brought up. Robert Green Ingersoll writes in 1877, "We have seen here in America street-car drivers working sixteen and seventeen hours a day. It was necessary to have a strike in order to get to fourteen, another strike to get to twelve, and nobody could blame them for keeping on striking till they get to eight hours." [*7] Emma Goldman and John Most write in 1896, "The system of communism logically excludes any and every relation between master and servant, and means really Anarchism, and the way to this goal leads through a social revolution." [*8] In 1901, Leo Tolstoy wrote, "...for no social system can be durable or stable, under which the majority does not enjoy equal rights but is kept in a servile position, and is bound by exceptional laws. Only when the labouring majority have the same rights as other citizens, and are freed from shameful disabilities, is a firm order of society possible." [*9]
All of these social agitators and dissenting voices promoted the idea of an economy based on satisfying the needs of the laboring workers, not the idle rich. And, in reality, this system can be called either Socialism or Communism. Those were the principles that were carried by these individuals whose revolutionary thought was only followed by courageous action. Vladimir Lenin, who associated himself with the ideas of Socialism, would seize state power of Russia in October of 1917, declaring the first Socialist state -- and there have been many valid critics on the question of whether he actually did this. In China, a revolutionary movement was growing. Mao Tse-Tung became one of its greatest members. In this piece, he expresses his Socialist ideas, writing, "...the road to the abolition of classes, to the abolition of state power and to the abolition of parties is the road all mankind must take..." and "...it is only the working class that is most farsighted, most selfless and most thoroughly revolutionary." The Communist Party of China gained control over the state in 1949. Now the revolutionaries who claimed to be representing the genuine will of the people will have an opportunity to put their ideas into practice. It was time to see what great success Socialism could give to a willing people.
Mao Tse-Tung's policy was to create a Dictatorship. And that is why many say that the dream of Socialism in China was dead before it was conceived. In this piece, he writes, "'You are dictatorial.' My dear sirs, you are right, that is just what we are." And, "Our present task is to strengthen the people's state apparatus -- mainly the people's army, the people's police and the people's courts -- in order to consolidate national defence and protect the people's interests." The right to vote was completely abolished, establishing the Communist Party of China as the only legal political affiliation. Those who desire to seek out their community and personal interests through alternative ideas and different routes were disciplined by the law. Autonomy, the right of the majority of the people to control the society which they are constantly in submission to, was completely denied. This was the first policy of these "Socialists" in China. It was certainly an omen to all Freethinkers of what was to come with this new regime.
What about the authors of the Communist Manifesto? They desired to create the worker's society, where the primary economic rule was "Each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!" [*10] We are aware that Frederick Engels, co-author of the Manifesto, wrote, "In all civilized countries, democracy has as its necessary consequence the political rule of the proletariat, and the political rule of the proletariat is the first condition for all communist measures. As long as democracy has not been achieved, thus long do Communists and democrats fight side by side, thus long are the interests of the democrats at the same time those of the Communists." [*11] Marx writes, "Man does not exist because of the law but rather the law exists for the good of man. Democracy is human existence, while in the other political forms man has only legal existence. That is the fundamental difference of democracy." [*12] The 1893 Italian Edition of the Communist Manifesto includes this important aspects of "political autonomy," where Engels writes, "Without restoring autonomy and unity to each nation, it will be impossible to achieve the international union of the proletariat, or the peaceful and intelligent co-operation of these nations toward common aims." [*13] As far as political rights of the working class, Karl Marx writes in 1873...
Inexcusable. That's the word Karl Marx uses for anyone who would deny the working class their right to combination, strikes, or political movements. And it was the very first action of the so-called Communist Party of China. Ba Jin, the Chinese anti-Capitalist who was in China during the rule of the CPC, wrote, "... nobody can depict the 'cowshed' prison as a paradise, nor depict inhuman massacre as a 'Great Proletarian Revolution.'" [*15] Rudolph Rocker, a prominent Anarcho-Syndicalist, writes, "...economic exploitation has always gone hand in hand with political and social oppression. The exploitation of man by man and the domination of man over man are inseparable, and each is the condition of the other." [*16] Peter Kropotkin, the true working class philosopher, gives us his sage-wisdom in this question to the youth of his day in 1880, "Which side will you take? For the law and against justice, or for justice and against the law?" [*17] Mikhail Bakunin was an Anarchist who opposed the Socialist state, but sought out the Socialist community, writing, "...there is no revolution without the masses..." [*18] Big Bill Haywood, the strong symbol of American labor, would give to his listeners in a speech the following words: "...to be in a position to control the power of government so as to make the work of the army ineffective, so as to abolish totally the secret service and the force of detectives. That is the reason that you want the power of government." [*19]
It is a generally accepted maxim among countless Communist and Socialist thinkers that the masters of the state will be as cruel, ruthless, and devious as the masters of economy. Anarchists have learned that it is not just economic authority that poses the greatest threat to the working class. It is authority, the coercion of others to your will, that is always our enemy, whether it is economic, political, educational, or cultural in any way. It is true that Marx certainly made arguments on behalf of authority, and in this respect, he differed with many of the other Socialists. Individuals like Goldman, Bakunin, and Kropotkin called themselves Anarchists, to define themselves as anti-authoritarian Socialists. Marx would defend authority in 1872 with, "They [anti-authoritarian Socialists] demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the abolition of authority. Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is..." [*20] However, he does add in the same piece, "All Socialists are agreed that the political state, and with it political authority, will disappear as a result of the coming social revolution, that is, that public functions will lose their political character and will be transformed into the simple administrative functions of watching over the true interests of society."
Communism, Socialism, worker's solidarity, unions, consumer groups, social issue advocates, reformers, revolutionaries, journalist muckrakers, underground zine publishers, protest soldiers, and social agitation of all degrees -- all of these ideas and concepts have value for one and one reason only. They all directly speak to the experience and knowledge of the working class. They all recognize the primal facts of our economy: the working class are responsible for producing the wealth of society, but due to our current economic laws of Free Enterprise, they are only allowed to appreciate an extremely small portion of it. The massive poverty that has spread through the working class is due mostly to the concentration of the means of production in the hands of a very few economic elites. All means and methods that have been used to help the worker open his mind to the class antagonism that causes his misery, all of these means and methods can truly be called Socialism. Their primary aim and end was to alleviate the misery of the working class, and this can only be done by giving the worker autonomy. We have sought to liberate the ourselves from the yoke of Capitalism by defending our two sets of rights: our political rights, including the right to strike, boycott, association, suffrage, freedom of speech, organizing, leafleting, petitions, and protests, and then our economic rights, such as a living wage, safe working conditions, affordable necessities, inexpensive and clean housing, as well as availability in healthcare and education. By securing these two sets of rights, Socialists have helped to alleviate such great poverty and suffering. But, when Mao abolished the political rights of all Chinese citizens, he also was responsible for abolishing all of their economic rights. There cannot be a living wage, or safe working conditions, or affordable housing, without the working class having a voice in society. It is only when the working class has the political capacity to look after their own interests that a truly Socialist society can be achieved. When others try to "look after their interests" for them, such as a Vanguard Party, then the economic rights of the working class cannot be realized.
One of Mao's most prominent accomplishments was coined the Cultural Revolution. There was an editorial in the newspaper of the People's Liberation Army in 1966 that read, "The current great socialist cultural revolution is a great revolution to sweep away all monsters and a great revolution that remoulds the ideology of people and touches their souls.... He who wants to make revolution must accept Mao Tse-tung's thought and act in accordance with it." [*21] From these descriptive terms, one might necessarily think that a great cultural revolution of the Proletariat might mean building libraries, museums, schools -- a breaking down of all the intellectual barriers which only inhibited the growth and development of the people. Let's take a look at Mao's track record for accomplishing this goal: "Liquidation of counterrevolutionaries, land reform, 'Three Antis' and 'Five Antis' campaigns (1949-52). Five million executions..." The Minister for Public Security admitted that its "anti-rightist campaign" of 1957 is responsible for killing 100,000 and then subjecting 1.7 million to police investigation, with several million sent to the countryside for "reeducation." The Cultural Revolution itself was in reality an oppressive police state with forced labor camps, where millions were worked to death. [*22] Tiananmen Square is another glowing and brilliant example: it was the combination of the working class to enforce their own interests against the ruling, capital-owning class, the so-called Communist Party of China. Those who fought Mao represented the true sentiment of Marxism and Communism. A more apt term for this period of Chinese history would be the Great Cultural Regression.
The history of the Maoist campaigns is a well-known topic to many political theory and sociology minds. It has been fifty seven years since the revolution of the Communist Party of China. In all of those years of constant change, the government ended up becoming the major oppressor, forcing unbelievable misery to a working class that had no right to voice its opinions in government. But, today, does China exhibit the true spirit of Socialism? Well, has the Communist Party of China abolished poverty through its policy? According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates for 2000-02, 11% of the population of the People's Republic of China were undernourished. [*23] The civil rights abuses of Mao's era still continue to this day...
It is almost a bitter irony. Marxists, Communists, Socialists, Leftists, and others have always fought for the rights of labor combinations, striking, and allowing the working class to make demands of their oppressor; however, this is all done away with in the state-run Capitalism of the Communist Party of China. A democratic union of works is the most authentic form of revolutionary Socialism. Marx defended the institution...
The irony is very apparent when Mao describes himself as a Marxist yet his practice completely denies the principles of Marxism. Hypocrisy is one term for it. But, this wouldn't be the very first time in history that a leader promised a solution that the people demanded, and then denied it once they obtained authority. The first enemy of the working class is Capitalism. The second enemy is the state. So long as both remain intact, the worker will forever find himself the slave to a powerful machine.
No, my working class brethren, you have not been freed. There is simply a new oppressor who, like the old oppressor, claims to be your liberator.
There's no fooling a true Marxist. There was very little in the practice of Mao that truly resembled the ideologies of real Socialism or Communism. I understand that they pushed themselves as Communists and Socialists, but that is naturally the tendency of every ruling party. They always say that they are good for the people, but they never let the people speak and administer society for themselves. Besides calling himself "Socialist," Mao applied the term "Democratic" to his state -- when it clearly was not. The so-called "People's Liberation Army" was responsible for burning down thousands of homes, executing millions, and enslaving many to the point of physical collapse. Was there anything about this Chinese institution that expressed either the will of the people or sentiments of a liberating ideal? Absolutely not. Of course Mao will call it the People's Liberation Army. It would be a tad bit more difficult to sway the people if it was named the Mobile Oppression Force, just like it would be impossible for him to form the Capitalist Republic of China -- the people themselves are aware that Socialism and Democracy are necessary; for a vicious ruler, it's just enough to convince the people that they have what they know they need. Mao established the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat," but even Marx even made some technical notes about what that term really means...
In this speech, Mao says, "But for the working class, the labouring people and the Communist Party the question is not one of being overthrown, but of working hard to create the conditions in which classes, state power and political parties will die out very naturally and mankind will enter the realm of Great Harmony." Understanding just a small dose of contemporary Chinese history is enough to demonstrate that the Communist Party of China simply reinforced class antagonisms by recreating the class-based system with a state-run Capitalism. Mao's policy, as he describes it, can be simplified to: Democracy for those who are with us, Dictatorship for those who are against us. This really exemplifies how authority and power work. Those who are with Mao are the revolutionary Proletariat who want to abolish Capitalism. Those who are against Mao are the reactionary forces of Imperialism. Or, as Mao repeats a few times...
I don't really understand many of Mao's remarks about "democracy for the proletariat." He seems obsessed with at least somehow retaining the attachment of the word Democracy. If anything, Democracy is only real when it exists for the minority classes. Of course full rights and privileges will be granted to the class that has ruling power. Every dictator has "Democracy" for his own party. Why would a dictator enact raids against his own headquarters, or illegal arrests of his own partisans? It would be ridiculous. I think it can always be assumed that dictators and other oppressors will grant special political or social privileges to those who represent their interest. At this point, I think that can be assumed. You can tell if a genuine Democracy exists by seeing if the minority classes enjoy the same rights of free speech, free association, and equal suffrage.
Of course everyone who doesn't like authoritarian or totalitarian governments is going to oppose Mao. Socialists and Communists have a historical tendency towards Libertarianism. If we're not going to stand for someone controlling whether we get bread for the day, why would we stand for someone controlling our life and liberty? Mao, however, vilified all who opposed him as "the reactionary forces of Imperialist Capitalism," when that wasn't quite true. Many of those who opposed his methods and tactics were avowed Socialists and Communists. When the government divides society into "those who are with us" and "those who are against us," of course they will say that those who are anti-government are also against the will of the people. It's simply the most natural flowing movement for an oppressive, totalitarian regime.
Mao was fond of saying that he was creating a dictatorship over the enemy. "The right to vote belongs only to the people, not to the reactionaries. The combination of these two aspects, democracy for the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries, is the people's democratic dictatorship." Of course a leader of the people is going to say that they are oppressing the enemy, the capitalist class in this case. He wants the people to believe that he is hurting the one who has hurt them. He plays to these simple prejudices and their willingness to follow. The fact that another person's voice is not the same as my own does not mean that I should ever silence them. Democracy relies on this truth most of all. Mao's ban on all non-state approved literature was naturally only followed by the massacring of the authors and the imprisoning of the publishing rings. I am convinced that Socialism would be one of the greatest reforms enacted, but I'm not quite sure how Mao's program attempted to change anything. He even writes here, "Our present policy is to regulate capitalism, not to destroy it." Just when are the people ready to be living in a social order that is absent of exploiting economic relationships? Today, thousands of corporations outsource labor to China in cruel and inhumane conditions.
"To sum up our experience and concentrate it into one point, it is the people's democratic dictatorship under the leadership of the working class (through the Communist Party) and based upon the alliance of workers and peasants." For a dictatorship, the party of the ruling class is going to be the organ which expresses the will of the people. That is a given for any dictatorship. There is no reason to expect a Leninist to create democracy for the working class "through their own autonomous, self-organized, mutual cooperation." Such a theory would baffle the pathetic understanding that infected Mao's ideas. The fact that the Communist Party of China itself did not allow suffrage, freedom of speech, or any other rights necessary to the proper functioning of a Democracy speaks volumes. How is the party going to enforce the will of the people, when their first instinct is to imprison and massacre those who exercise the rights defended by Marx and Engels?
Maoism and Leninism make fatal mistakes, because they assume that to grant political autonomy to the working class would mean that they wouldn't seek out economic autonomy for themselves, through combinations of labor, activism, and other grassroots movements. The Statist Communists believe that Capitalism is the source of misery for the Proletariat and that the only way to abolish it is to give absolute political power to a vanguard party. But, seeing that the working class are the ones who suffer for the free trade economy, one might make the logical conclusion that they therefore ought to be the ones responsible for decision-making in rebuilding their political, social, and economic worlds. These Statist "Socialists" believe that man is too inherently weak, unorganized, and thoughtless to control his situation, and therefore needs someone to control it for him. If it were true that man was incapable of governing for himself economically, then I would just as soon take Imperialist Capitalism over Statist Communism. But, I have no reason to believe that the working class cannot or will not become socially aware. Socialists are responsible for the eight hour day, safe factory conditions, protected jobs, higher incomes, unemployment payment, food stamps for the working class poor, and so much more. Our ideas and the ideas of our philosophers have created the momentum that has improved and brightened our world. If we think we can jump forward by force and coercion, by dictatorship and not through Democracy, then we will make the same errors that Mao and Lenin made; and, if such a mistake were made by any Socialist group, we can only expect that they will leave countless dead in their wake -- their "realization of the utopian dream of Socialism." But, if we think that Socialism hasn't accomplished anything for the poor, the homeless, and the working class, then we would be ignoring the largest and most important part of history. As Communists, we must push on, but it is absolutely important that all political autonomy is in the hands of everyone.
The greatest service anyone could ever do for Capitalism would be to propagate the idea that China was a truly Communist society, when it certainly was not an alternative world where workers possessed complete power over the political and economic institutions. If anyone were to push "Red" China as a glorious and glowing example of Proletariat Revolution, then they are simply going to offend and insult those who are listening. Why would anyone desire to abolish Capitalism, if the only resulting effect is a serious violation of our rights as members of the social unit? To defend the actions of the so-called Communist Party of China will only empower Capitalism and hinder the further progress of Socialism. And for those reasons, we must make ourselves the enemies of the Communist Party of China, until it collapses and the people are given true economic, political, social, cultural, and religious liberty.
1. "Civilization and Its Discontents," by Sigmund Freud, 1930. Published by W.W. Norton & Company, translated and edited by James Strachey (copyright 1961), with a biographical introduction by Peter Gay. Chapter 5, page 71, footenote #7.