Attach Importance to the Revolution in the Superstructure
Attach Importance to the Revolution in the Superstructure
Attach Importance to the Revolution in the Superstructure
Attach Importance to the Revolution in the Superstructure
by Li Chien
Source: Peking Review, No. 34, August 24, 1973
CARRYING out the socialist revolution in the superstructure, the sphere of ideology included, is a basic task of our Party on the ideological-political front. Twenty-odd years of class struggle and the struggle between the two lines since the founding of New China have shown this to be an important historical experience.
Contradictions Between Relations of Production And Productive Forces and Between Superstructure and Economic Base
On the eve of the nationwide victory in the new-democratic revolution in China, Chairman Mao pointed out at the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China that, after the proletariat had seized political power, "in the cities we must learn how to wage political, economic and cultural struggles against the imperialists, the Kuomin-tang and the bourgeoisie." (Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.)
Guided by Chairman Mao's revolutionary line, our Party gradually learnt how to tackle this most important work. We waged struggles against imperialism, the Kuomintang and the bourgeoisie in the superstructure. Proletarian state power was thus consolidated and smooth progress of socialist transformation ensured. After the great victory in the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production in China, Chairman Mao, criticizing the revisionist theory of "the dying out of class struggle" and the metaphysical negation of the existence of contradictions in socialist society, pointed out incisively: "The basic contradictions in socialist society are still those between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base." "Apart from harmony as well as contradiction between the relations of production and the developing productive forces, there is harmony as well as contradiction between the superstructure and the economic base." (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.)
Under socialism, such basic contradictions continue to lake the form of class contradictions, the concentrated expressions of which are the contradiction and struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and the struggle between the socialist and the capitalist roads. Naturally, in socialist society, the contradictions between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base differ essentially from those in the old society. Socialist relations of production are in harmony with the development of the productive forces, and the socialist system spurs the rapid growth of the country's productive forces, demonstrating Us tremendous superiority. Nevertheless, at this stage these relations are not flawless and their imperfections impede to some extent the development of the productive forces.
The state system and laws of China's proletarian dictatorship are powerful instruments for establishing, safeguarding and developing the socialist economic base. The socialist ideology with Marx ism-Lenin ism-Mao Tsetung Thought as the guide, while reflecting the needs of the socialist economic base, acts as a great propelling force in the consolidation and development of the socialist economic base. However, bourgeois ideology and certain unhealthy practices in the state organizations as well as defects in some links of the state machinery are in contradiction with the socialist economic base. It is for this reason that the proletariat must continue the revolution, gradually transform production relations to suit and promote the development of the productive forces, and actively transform the superstructure to suit it to the economic base and promote its development. Only thus can the cause of socialism be carried forward.
The bourgeoisie and its representatives, on the other hand, want to perpetuate the bourgeois ideological system of oppressing and exploiting the proletariat and the capitalist social system, and they leave no stone unturned to oppose all reforms in the superstructure. Their vain hope is to undermine the socialist economic base, subvert the proletarian dictatorship and restore capitalism. Such a course of contradiction and struggle will last throughout the entire socialist historical period.
Revolution in the Superstructure Since Liberation
Proceeding from the law of the unity of opposites which is a basic law of the universe and basing himself on the historical experience of the proletarian dictatorship, Chairman Mao formulated the basic theory and line in the socialist period for our Party and led it in making one revolution after another in the superstructure, including the ideological sphere.
From the campaigns to criticize and repudiate the film The Life of Wu Hsun, the bourgeois ideas in certain monographs on the classic The Dream of the Red Chamber, the counter-revolutionary Hu Feng clique 1 to the launching and carrying through of revolutions in art and literature as well as in education; from smashing the opportunist lines of Kao Kang, Jao Shu-shih, Peng Teh-huai and others 2 to embarking on the anti-Rightist struggle1 and initiating the widespread socialist education movement in town and countryside — the objective has been the same: it is to seek further solutions to problems in the superstructure and make it adaptable to the development of the socialist economic base and instrumental in consolidating and strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat. Chairman Mao's wise leadership enabled our Party to emerge victorious in all these struggles, ensured China's advance with giant strides on the road of socialism, and effectively promoted the consolidation and development of the socialist economic-base.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize revisionism and rectify the style of work, initiated and led by Chairman Mao, are the continuation of the struggle between the two classes, two roads and two lines following the birth of the People's Republic. These great revolutionary struggles have demolished the bourgeois headquarters headed by Liu Shao-chi and crushed the plots of political swindlers like Liu Shao-chi who tried to change the Party's basic line and policies and restore capitalism. It has cleaned up, in depth and breadth as never before, the mire left by the bourgeoisie and other exploiting classes in the superstructure, including the ideological sphere, and brought the revisionist line and ideology under heavy fire. All this has been a powerful impetus to the consolidation and development of China's socialist economic base and a source of strength to firm up the socialist system of the proletarian dictatorship. It has given our socialist motherland new vigour and prosperity.
However, some of the tasks of struggle-criticism-transformation in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution remain to be completed. The basic contradictions between the productive forces and the relations of production and between the superstructure and the economic base still exist, and class struggle has not ended. The bourgeoisie will never be reconciled to their defeat. After the upsurge of each revolutionary movement, as historical experience shows, the bourgeoisie always try to recover lost ground, turning to new forms of struggle in the new situation. At the same time, as pointed out by Chairman Mao: "New things always have to overcome difficulties and setbacks as they grow." (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) This is the case with reforms in education, literature and art, with the work concerning educated youths going to the countryside, with running ''May 7” cadre schools and with the co-operative medical system and ''barefoot doctors." When old contradictions are resolved, new contradictions arise. If we rest on our laurels, oblivious of the need to carry on the revolution and to repulse the bourgeoisie's attempts to put the clock back and their other subversive activities, if we do not solve in time, in accordance with the Party's line and policies, the contradictions facing us in our way ahead, the fruits of our victory may be vitiated, undermined, or lost again. In order to carry the socialist revolution in the superstructure through to the end, we must conscientiously sum up our experience in struggle and consolidate and expand our victories as we march forward.
The Key Is to Grasp the Party Line
To grasp the superstructure, the key is to take firm hold of the line, which is itself part of the realm of ideology in the superstructure. Being the concentrated expression of the interests, demands and world outlook of a definite class and the guide to all action, the line is therefore a fundamental question bearing on the entire situation. Chairman Mao teaches us: "The correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything." He expounds the interaction of the superstructure on the economic base and penetratingly sums up class struggle in the superstructure as being, in the last analysis, a matter of what ideological and political line to be followed. If the ideological and political line is correct, that which makes up the superstructure will adhere to the correct orientation to constantly perfect itself and play a full part in protecting and promoting the socialist economic base. But if the line is wrong, the superstructure will lose its bearings; it will not be able to serve the socialist economic base but will obstruct and undermine it.
We must take the Party’s basic line as our guide in pushing the socialist revolution in the superstructure and changing all parts of the superstructure unsuited to the socialist economic base. "A line or a viewpoint must he explained constantly and repeatedly. It won't do to explain them only to a few people; they must be made known to the broad revolutionary masses."
Not only the leading cadres but also rank-and-file Party members and the revolutionary masses should pay attention to the Party's basic line. Some comrades, on the excuse that their level is low-, regard grasping the superstructure and the line as the exclusive business of the leading cadres. This way of looking at things is incorrect. A low level needs all the more to pay attention to the superstructure and the Party line. Knowledge comes from practice. One's level of consciousness in line can be gradually raised only through the practice of concerning oneself with the revolution in the superstructure.
Some comrades pay little attention to or are not adept at availing themselves of the superstructure and the Party line to stimulate production. Subjectively they want to quicken the pace of production and construction, but often they fail to obtain the desired results and sometimes even lose their bearings and go astray. Take a firm hold of the revolution in the superstructure, and a great spurt in production and construction will follow-on the heels of its victory. One powerful proof is the flourishing Big Leap situation of 1958, which came in the wake of the great victory of the socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts in 1957. The resounding victory of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize revisionism and rectify the style of work will no doubt continue to give a big push to our cause of socialist construction in every respect.
This likewise is true of individual units. Where the revolution is grasped well and the Party line and policies are thoroughly implemented, with the contradictions between the enemy and ourselves and contradictions among the people correctly handled, the socialist consciousness of the masses raised and all positive factors brought into full play, it follows that production will develop at full speed. "Grasp revolution, promote production" has become the personal experience of many comrades.
Every School or Trend of Thought Reflects Class Interests end Demands
In grasping the superstructure and line, we must pay attention to studying the many schools and trends of thought in the ideological realm — in philosophy, literature, art and education — and distinguish what class and line each represents and whether it is of benefit to the consolidation and development of the socialist economic base.
The Marxist theory of the economic base and the superstructure tells us that social being determines social consciousness. Since human society divided into classes, there has been no such thin;-; as a supra-class and unified social ideology. In the same society people having different class status and interests will have different ideas, wishes and world outlooks, and different and even diametrically opposite schools and trends of thought will emerge. Chairman Mao has pointed out: "So long as classes exist, there will be us many doctrines as there are classes, and even various groups in the same class may have their different doctrines." (On New Democracy.)
In class society, therefore, there are only the doctrines of classes, but no supra-class doctrine of the "whole people." "The communist world outlook is the world outlook of the proletariat and of no other class." (Speech at the Chinese Communist Party's National Conference on Propaganda Work.) For all their motley and variegated character, different schools and trends of thought in the final analysis are direct or indirect reflections of the interests and demands of certain classes and are overtly or covertly linked with the class and political struggles of the time.
Under socialism, the bourgeoisie and its representatives, who are out for a counter-revolutionary comeback, often make use of reactionary ideas of the past — directly peddle or revamp them — to propagate idealism and metaphysics, spread bourgeois ideas and push their revisionist line. Was it really hankering after the ancients and antiquity that produced such reactionary films and operas as the Inside Story of the Ching Court 4, The Life of Wu Hsun and Hai Jui Dismissed From Office 5'? Liu Shao-chi and the other political swindlers are careerists and conspirators, a bunch of ignoramuses who never read books or newspapers. When they waxed eloquent about Confucius. Mencius and philosophy and history, were they doing this merely for show? Certainly not. They looked for weapons from the ancients only for the purpose of attacking the proletariat, and they tried to resurrect the dead only for the purpose of staging a counter-revolutionary come-back—justifying "the infamy of today by the infamy of yesterday." (Marx: Critique of Hegel’s 'Philosophy of Right.')
To carry on the socialist revolution, to expose and criticize the trash of Liu Shao-chi and other political swindlers, to overcome the ideologies of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes, we must acquaint ourselves with the main trends and schools of thought in history and the characteristics of the landlord and bourgeois ideologies in the periods of their ascendancy and decline, so that we can distinguish between materialism and idealism and between Marxism and revisionism and understand and carry out present-day class and line struggles better.
In the entire historical period of socialist revolution and construction by the proletariat, the struggle between the two classes, the two lines and the two world outlooks in the ideological sphere will be a long one and will frequently recur. Outdated traditional ideas and idealist and metaphysical viewpoints as well as literary and art works and theories in defence of the overthrown exploiting classes and their ideologies all stand in the way of the revolution in the superstructure and consequently obstruct the consolidation and development of the socialist economic base. Some comrades, however, often fail to see or understand the importance of the class struggle in the ideological sphere and the fact that bourgeois ideology, idealism and metaphysics impede socialist revolution and construction. They regard the struggle on the cultural and educational front as purely the business of the "cultural departments" without any bearing on the national economy and the people's livelihood. This is quite wrong.
The struggle of different schools and trends of thought in the ideological sphere, "in the last analysis reflects the tendencies and ideology of the antagonistic classes in modern society." (Lenin: Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.) Far from having no bearing on the overall situation, the outcome of such a struggle advances or puts back the socialist cause. To advance socialist revolution and construction, the proletariat must struggle against and criticize outdated traditional ideas and erroneous schools and trends of thought. In such criticism, "efforts should be made to apply the dialectical method. What is needed is scientific analysis and convincing argument." (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) This is an important experience gained from years of struggle in the ideological and cultural fields.
Taking the Party's Basic Line as the Guide
The ideological struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between dialectical materialism on the one hand and idealism and metaphysics on the other, and between Marxism and revisionism is an objective reality independent of man's will. One need not worry about opposites. There is nothing unusual about controversies over differing opinions. "There can be no differentiation without contrast. There can be no development without differentiation and struggle. Truth develops through its straggle against falsehood." (Speech at the Chinese Communist Party's National Conference on Propaganda Work.) Only by thrashing them out and by criticism can erroneous ideas be set at naught, and only by clashing with erroneous ideas can correct ideas develop. Only through such struggles can the superstructure be constantly transformed to adapt to the developing socialist economic base. In these struggles, the Party's basic line should be taken as the guide to correctly distinguish and handle the two different types of contradictions and carefully distinguish fragrant flowers from poisonous weeds. Questions of ideology and understanding on the part of the people and matters of the mind can only be dealt with by presenting facts and reasoning.
In order to do better in the class struggle in the ideological sphere, we must "read and study seriously and have a good grasp of Marxism." We must study some history for it will help us to sum up useful experiences and draw lessons from class struggles and ideological struggles in history, get a deeper and more specific understanding of the Marxist theory on class struggle, i*aise our ability to tell the difference between real and sham Marxism and initiate us into the great struggle of the day. We must study seriously, assiduously and perseveringly. We must use the Marxist stand, viewpoint and method to criticize and sum up the history of the development of human cognition and ancient culture, distinguish between the essence and the dross and adopt the principle of making the past serve the present and foreign things serve China and weeding through the old to bring forth the new. This is essential for overcoming the bourgeois ideology and enriching and developing the proletarian ideology. Only class struggle in the ideological sphere can bring this about.
New Things Are Invincible
Some comrades, though realizing the importance of grasping the class struggle in the ideological sphere, feel that the difficulties arc too great and hesitate to take bold steps forward. Actually, the road of revolution has always been a difficult and tortuous one; there is no smooth and easy course. This is even more so with revolution in the superstructure. We cannot advance if, for fear of our lack of rich and well-grounded revolutionary experience in this sphere, we choose the beaten track which offers least resistance and difficulties. One must note that "today, socialism is in an advantageous position in the ideological struggle. The main power of the stale is in the hands of the working people led by the proletariat. The Communist Party is strong and its prestige stands high." (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) True, the ideologies of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes still exist in society and in every sphere of the superstructure. But they are the ideologies of decadent classes and their economic bases have been destroyed. They are therefore without vitality and are rotten to the core, and they can be defeated completely. On the other hand, the proletariat, being the most revolutionary class, represents the new productive forces. Its ideology is full of great vitality and is unconquerable.
Socialist new things may look somewhat weak and not deep-rooted at the start, but they are full of revolutionary vigour. Compared to the old things which seem strong and deep-rooted but reek of decay, they have a fine future for development. Though they may have taken only the first step, this first step will take them farther than all old things.
The development of new things always proceeds from superficial to deep, from weak to strong and from a low to a higher level. A big revolutionary movement, like the turbulent Yangtze rushing down from the gorges on the upper reaches to swell at the mouth, must pass through a process involving a beginning, a climax and a deepening stage. Our revolutionary comrades, therefore, must be steadfast and confident in carrying on the socialist revolution in the superstructure, including the ideological sphere.
In making revolution in the superstructure, we must combine revolutionary fervour with a realistic spirit. We must learn from the revolutionary spirit of those who. in creating the model revolutionary theatrical works, diligently studied to create lofty images of proletarian heroes, and took the greatest pains to improve their portrayal to perfection. We must keep up with the working class' dauntless heroic spirit and its scientific attitude of laying stress on Party policy when the workers first took hold of the superstructure. The proletariat "must exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the field of the superstructure, including the various spheres of culture."
To achieve this, the broad masses, under the guidance of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line, must do n great deal of painstaking work over a long period of lime. Persistently taking the Party's basic line as our guide is the universal law that must be followed in all endeavours in the superstructure. At the same time, we must take care to study the particular contradictions of each concrete item of Work in every department and make concrete analysis of concrete things and grasp the particular laws of things. Only by being earnest and doing all kinds of work soundly can we keep ourselves in an indomitable position and step by step defeat the bourgeoisie. Occupying each position in the superstructure with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and transforming it is a long-term strategic task. We must be determined, persevere and carry it through. The revolution is advancing. The road ahead may be full of twists and turns, but our future is bright. Let us go all out, aim high and win new victories under the guidance of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line!
(Originally published in "Hongqi," No. 8, 1973. Subheads and notes are ours.)
1. The Life of Wu Hsun was a film taken but left unfinished by the "China Film Studio" of the Kuomintang reactionaries before liberation. It was completed under (ho sponsorship of the former Ministry of Culture and shown to the public not long after the founding of the Chinese People's Republic. Wu Hsun, the leading character, was a lackey of the feudal forces in the last years of the Ching Dynasty when the Chinese people were waging struggles against imperialism and the feudal rulers. Far From doing anything against the reactionary ruling classes, he carried on frantic propaganda for feudal culture and abjectly curried favour with the feudal ruling class.
The film, however, portrayed Wu Hsun as a “great personality" who made many self-sacrifice to provide opportunities for the children of the impoverished peasants to get an education, and smeared the revolutionary tradition of the Chinese people and spread bourgeois reformism and capitulation! am.
On May 20, 1951, Chairman Mao wrote an editorial for Renmin Ribao entitled "Give Serious Attention to the Discussion of the Film The Life of Wu Hsun." (See Peking Review, No. 23, 1967.) In it, he pointed out the reactionary nature of the film and called for a nationwide criticism ot it. This was the first large-scale criticism of reactionary bourgeois ideas after the founding of New China.
From September 1954 onward, the criticism of the book Studies in the “Dream of the Red Chamber" and of the reactionary ideas of Hu Shin was conducted. Yu Ping-po (a professor of Peking University), the author of Studies, distorted and erased the positive, anti-feudal significance of the Dream of the Red Chamber. His was the approach of bourgeois idealism, formalism and scholastic textual rest arch, and he concluded that this classical novel was the autobiography of the author Tsao Hsueh-chin. Yu Ping-po's methods were a complete carry-over of the approach used by the reactionary bourgeois scholar Hu Shin. These bourgeois idealist ideas were subjected to stern criticism throughout the country.
In May 1955, the whole nation hit back effectively at the Counter-revolutionary clique of Hu Feng, a renegade who had wormed his way back into the ranks of the revolution. After liberation, he organized a clandestine gang in literature and art circle to carry out counter-revolutionary activities. In a 300,000-word "suggestion" sent to the Central Committee of the Party in 1954, he venomously attacked the Party's literary and art policy and Chairman Mao's thought on literature and art. During May and June of 1955. Renmin Ribao published three sets of materials on Hu Feng's counter-revolutionary clique, thoroughly smashing its counter-revolutionary plot.
2. This refers to the first two inner-Party line struggles after liberation. In 1953 Chairman Mao put forth the Party's general line in the period of transition, which was "gradually to bring about the socialist industrialization of the country and the socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts and capitalist Industry and commerce by the state over a fairly long period." At the very beginning of the three great transformations, however, Peng Teh-huai, Kao Kang, Jao Shu-shih and others formed an anti-Party alliance which tried in vain to split the Central Committee and subvert the proletarian dictatorship. Their conspiracy was crushed in time by the Party's Central Committee.
The Right opportunist anti-Party clique of Peng Teh-huai, Huang Ke-chen, Chang Wen-tien, Chou Hsiao-chou and others was formed before the Party's Central Committee called the enlarged session of the Political Bureau at Lushan in July 1959, and it continued its activities during the session. The clique opposed the Party's general line, the big leap forward and the people's commune. The Party's Central Committee shattered its frenzied attacks.
3 In 1957, the bourgeois Rightists launched a violent attack against the Party by taking advantage of its rectification campaign. Their fond hope was to bring about a similar Hungarian incident in China, plunge the nation into chaos, so that they could come forward "to clear up the mess,*' replace the Party and restore capitalism. The whole nation, led by the Party and Chairman Mao, waged a vigorous struggle against the Rightists and repulsed the bourgeoisie's rabid attack.
4. Inside Story of the Ching Court, a reactionary film made by the Yunghua Film Company before liberation, was still showing all over the nation in 1950. It dealt with the Reform Movement of 1098 and the struggle of the Yi Ho Tuan Movement in the last years of the Ching Dynasty. From a reactionary stand, it freely distorted history, prettifying imperialism, feudalism and bourgeois reformism. While eulogizing the royalists, it slandered the revolutionary mass movement and the heroic struggle of the people against imperialism and feudalism and advocated national capitulation. This was the film which Liu Shao-chi described as 'patriotic."
As long ago as October 1954, Chairman Mao pointed out sternly in his "Letter Concerning Studies of the Dream of the Red Chamber" (see Peking Review, No. 23, l967) that the film, which somebody called patriotic, was actually one of national betrayal.
5. Hai Jui Dismissed From Office, published in Peking Literature in January 19til, was an historical opera written by the reactionary bourgeois academic despot Wu Han. With the aid of an historical talc, the author dropped dark hints and attacked the Party's Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao, trying to reverse the decisions of the 1959 Lushan conference. Wu Han spoke in defence of Right opportunists Peng Teh-huai and his ilk, aiding and abetting them in the attempt to make a come-back and restore capitalism. In October 1905 the proletarian headquarters headed by Chairman Mao launched a campaign to criticize and repudiate the opera, thereby preparing public opinion and paving the way for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
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