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 Liberate History From Confines of the Historians' Lecture Rooms and Textbooks

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Liberate History From Confines of the Historians' Lecture Rooms and Textbooks
— Tientsin workers apply Marxist viewpoint to the study and dissemination of the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools


Source:Peking Review, No, 28, July 12, 1974
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org

    HAVING discarded fetishes and superstitions and emancipated their minds, the worker-theorists of the railway station in north Chinas port city of Tientsin have used the Marxist-Leninist stand, viewpoint and method to disseminate* among the station's workers and stall the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools' in graphic and easy-to-understand language. Their activities have been warmly welcomed, which fully demonstrates the role of the workers, peasants and. soldiers as the main force in criticizing Lin Kao and Confucius and shows that only the proletariat armed with Marxism can display the dauntless revolutionary spirit and reverse the reversal of history by the reactionary ruling classes of bygone days, thus making historical experience better serve the current class struggle and two-line struggle.

Need for Deep-Going Criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius

  Inspired by the spirit of the; Tenth Party Congress, the workers and staff of the Tientsin Railway Station began criticizing Confucius last September. Since the turn of this year, they have warmly responded to the call of Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee and criticized Lin Piao's reactionary programme for restoring capitalism by following Confucius’ preaching "restrain oneself and return to the sites." The development of the movement posed some new problems to be solved. Some workers raised these questions: Why did Lin Piao turn to the dead soul of Confucius for help in plotting to restore capitalism? Why were all the chieftains of the opportunist lines in the Party worshippers of Confucius?
  These questions drew the attention of the station's Party committee. After studying the series of directives issued by Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee concerning the criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius, the committee members profoundly understood that criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius is a political and ideological struggle in the realm of the superstructure,, through which Marxism will triumph over revisionism and the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. Therefore; it is necessary not only to criticize the counter-revolutionary crimes of Lin Piao and his sworn followers but to uproot their ideological foundations, Lenin taught us: "The more deeply the old soil is ploughed up by revolution, the more difficult will it be to restore the old order." "The more varied the exploiters* attempts to uphold the old, the sooner will the proletariat It-am to ferret out its enemies from their last nook and corner, to pull up the roots of their domination."
  Lin Piao used the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius as his reactionary ideological weapon and theoretical foundation to restore capitalism. For more than 2,000 years, every reactionary ruling class spared no effort to distort the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools and obliterate the latter's historical role, with the result that the pernicious influence of the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius spread far and deep. To deepen the criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius, it is essential to study well the history of the two-line struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools in the different historical periods over the last 2.000 years and more, draw on the historical experience of class struggle, eradicate the poisonous influence of the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius and have Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought occupy all ideological positions. Hence the Party committee decided to mobilize the masses to study the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools and combine the class struggle in history with that of the moment according to the principle of making the past serve the present, so as to carry the criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius through to the end.
  This decision received prompt and warm response, from the workers and staff. Some workers said: "History has been made by us working .people. If we don't study it, who will? If we don't take over the realm of history, who will?" All of them were determined to study hard and make progress by overcoming difficulties. By studying and disseminating the history of the struggles between the two schools, they aimed at liberating history from the confines of the historians’ lecture rooms and turn it into a sharp weapon in the hands of the masses for criticizing Lin Piao and Confucius.

Salient Features

  Mid-May saw formation under the leadership of the station's Party committee of a group studying and disseminating the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools. It. consists of three veteran workers who had their fill of suffering in the old society and have a fairly high level of consciousness of the two-line struggle in the Party, three young workers and three leading cadres including the secretary and deputy secretary of the Party committee. They studied in stages the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools from the Spring- and Autumn and the Warring States Periods (770-221 B.C.) to the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911), In the course of study, they repeatedly read the" relevant works by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and by Chairman Mao and applied the dialectical and historical materialist viewpoints to make a concrete analysis of the essence of the two-school struggles and their course of development. While combining the summing up of historical experience with the current class struggle, they studied the articles and material in newspapers and other publications on the two-school struggles and consulted some history books. It was indeed difficult for the workers to read so much in so short a time, but they managed to do it with a firm will. Thanks to their diligent reading and study, they initially complied a series of fairly systematic lecture notes on the history of the two-school struggles and began disseminating it among the masses working at the station towards the end of May.
  Written and edited by the workers and cadres themselves, these lecture notes have the following salient features:
  1. Bringing into bold relief the focus and essense of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools. There were numerous representatives of the two schools and the struggles covered a wide scope in the 2,600 years between the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods and the downfall of the Ching Dynasty. With a view to enabling the masses to get the main points at issue, the group members only spoke briefly on the background of the two-school struggles and the exponents of both schools in every stage while emphatically and clearly pointing to the main focus of the struggles. As regards such struggles during the period from the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods to the Chin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.), for instance, the accent is on "restoring or abolishing the nine squares (ching tien) land system,2" the "rule of rites or rule of law,3" "setting up ducal states or adopting the prefectural and county system 4" and "obeying or opposing the heavenly mandate." Through talks on these four problems the group members make it clear that the essense of the struggles lies in whether to turn back the clock of society or to persist in advancing and that Chin Shih Huang who went with the tide of social historical development held the Legalist school in esteem and opposed the Confucian school, laid more stress on the present than on the past and unified China, thus playing the role of completing the transition to the feudal society.
  2. Using the Marxist stand, viewpoint and method to analyse historical figures and reverse the history that had been distorted and reversed by the reactionaries. For instance, the talk on the historically progressive role played by Chin Shih Huang is interspersed with historical events and legends popular among the masses, thereby making it clear that the incident of "burning books and burying Confucian scholars alive" was a struggle between restoration and counter-restoration. (See "Clarifying 'Burning Books and Burying Confucian Scholars Alive'" in Peking Review, No. 19, 1974.)
  3. Criticizing the counter-revolutionary revisionist line Lin Piao pursued by using the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius and his crimes of opposing the Party and betraying the country in close connection with the current class struggle and two-line struggle. Talks on Confucius and Mencius preaching "follow the former kings" and "restrain oneself and return to the rites" and vilifying the slaves' resistance and struggle and the rising landlord class' proposals for reforms are linked with criticism of Lin Piao's crimes of viciously attacking the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution by parroting Confucius' precept of "restraining oneself and returning to the rites." Thus, politically speaking, all of them were reactionaries who "lay more stress on the past than on the present," "use ancient things to attack the present" and made futile attempts at restoration and retrogression. Talks on the "theory of the heavenly mandate," "heaven and man combine into one" and the "divine rights" advocated by the Confucian school are linked with criticizing Lin Piao tor trumpeting the idealist theory of apriorism and styling himself a "heavenly horse" and "the noblest of men," so as to show that ideologically all of them were idealists. Lectures on Confucius, Mencius and their like talking glibly about "benevolence, righteousness and virtue" while hatching conspiratorial find sinister schemes arc linked with repudiating Lin Piao's crimes of working out the Outline of Project "571," a programme for a counter-revolutionary coup d'etat, by "speaking nice things to your face but -stabbing you in the back/' This shows that they were all insidious and ferocious counter-revolutionary double-dealers.
  The group members also pay attention to properly evaluating the representatives of the Legalist school from the historical and dialectical materialist point of view, affirming their progressiveness while pointing out their class and historical limitations.- Meanwhile, they give a brief account of the anti-Confucius struggles of the leaders of the labouring people's revolutionary struggles, such as Liuhsia Chih, Chen Sheng, Wu Kuang, Li Tzu-cheng and Hung Hsiu-ehuan. (See "Working People's Struggle Against Confucius in Chinese History'' in Peking Review, No. 13, 1974 and ''Struggle Between Opposing and Worshipping Confucius Over the Last 100 Years" in No. 28.) By approving these leaders' more clear-cut viewpoint and firmer stand than the Legalists in opposing Confucius, the group spreads the historical materialist viewpoint that the slaves are the makers of history.
  In the course of the dissemination, they keep soliciting the masses' opinions and pooling the latter’s wisdom and repeatedly revise their lecture notes to perfect and condense them still more.

Tremendous Rob

  Dissemination of the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools has evoked strong repercussions from the masses. Some veteran workers have said: "By opening the 'safe' of history, we have seen more clearly what kind of stuff the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius is and have come to understand why Lin Piao wanted to hoist this sinister banner." Several young workers have noted: "The class struggle of the moment is a continuation of that of the past if we want to be the worthy main force in criticizing Lin Piao and Confucius, we must know the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools and make a good study of the historical experience of class struggle, all in the service of the current class struggled
  With workers of various workshops going into action — some studying the history of the two-school struggles, others studying the representatives of the Legalist school, and still others criticizing the representative writings of the Confucian school — there is a new high tide in criticizing Lin Piao and Confucius throughout the railway station.
  The workers are all the more eager to study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought in order to deepen their criticism. Not long ago, another more than 100 workers joined the 150 spare-time study groups for studying works by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and by Chairman Mao in units under the Tientsin Railway Station.
  The experience of the station has now been popularized throughout Tientsin. An upsurge in studying the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools is rising, propelling the city-wide movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius to continue developing in a deep-going, popularized and sustained way.

Notes
  1. The Confucian school was a school of thought founded by Confucius. The Chinese character ju originally referred to those who helped the slave-owning aristocrats make the .arrangements for things like funerals. At first Confucius was also engaged in this profession. Trying everything to save the old institutions under the slave system, he later ran a private school to spread the ideas of a return to the old order and retrogression and took part in political activities opposing reform. A school of thought was gradually formed and later people called it the Confucian (ju) school. All those who inherited and elaborated the ideas of Confucius and Mencius in the later generations have been called Confucianists.
  The Legalist school was an important school of thought which opposed the Confucian school in the Warring States Period. Its main representatives were Shang Yang (?-338 B.C.), Hsun Kuang (c 313-230 B.C.) and Han Fei (c. 280-233 B.C.). Reflecting the interests of the new emerging landlord class, it propagated the materialist view that "Man can conquer nature" in opposition to the idealist view of "abiding by the will of heaven and fate." It advocated changes in law and reform and opposed a return to the ancient order and retrogression. It stood for replacing the rule of "rites" by the rule of "law" and the dictatorship of the slave-owning class by the dictatorship of the landlord class. This school was later known as the Legalist school. All those who inherited and elaborated its ideas in later generations have been called Legalists.
  2. The nine squares (ching tien) system was the land system of slave society in China's Western Chou Dynasty (e. 11th ecntury-771 B.C.) and the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476- B.C.), and the slave-owners used this system to exploit the slaves. At that time all the land in the country belonged to the son of Heaven (the sovereign). Land was divided into nine squares in the shape of the Chinese character ching and parcelled out to slave-owning aristocrats of different ranks who forced the slaves to cultivate the land given them.
  3. The rule of "rites" was the political idea of the Confucian school and meant rule according to the rites o? Chou. Starting from Confucius, the Confucianists stressed absolute observance of the system of a hierarchy, setting up ducal states and inheritance as well as the rites and ceremonies under the slave system of the Western Chou Dynasty, strict distinction between the social position of the slave-owners and slaves, and maintaining the rank and title by each slave-owning aristocrat without over-stepping them.
  The rule of "law" was the political idea of the Legalist school. It meant using published laws and decrees, reflecting the interests of the new emerging landlord class, to oppose the slave-owning aristocrats' hereditary prerogatives and then- system of hierarchy and setting up ducal states; attacking the slave-owning class' political force with violence; establishing and consolidating a feudal state with centralized power.
  4. Under the system of setting up ducal states, all the lurid and slaves belonged to the son of Heaven (the sovereign), He parcelled out land and slaves to dukes and other higher rank nobles, the latter in turn parcelling them out to their senior officials who again granted both to their shih (a lower rank in the hierarchy). Land and slaves wore thus distributed to slave-owners of different ranks. As a result, many independent ducal stales existed and the country was split.
  The prefectural and county system. When ShanYang introduced reforms through the changes in law in the State of Chin, one of the major ducal states in the Warring States Period, he abrogated the system of set tine up ducal states and divided Chin into many counties. Local officials were appointed by the ruler of the state. After Chin Shih Huang (the first emperor of the Chin Dynasty) unified all China in 221 B.C., he adopted the prefectural and county system under which the whole country was divided into 36 prefectures and each prefecture embraced a number of counties. The prefectures and counties were governed by non-hereditary officials appointed by the emperor. He thus founded a unitied feudal country with centralized power.
  




Dare to Think and Do
    
    
  Renmin Ribao published a commentary on July 5 praising the study and dissemination of the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools by the Tientsin Railway Station workers as "another pioneering undertaking of the working class and a good method of deepening the criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius."
  The commentary said: "Chairman Mao has taught us; It is necessary to know 'not only the China of today but also the China of yesterday and of the day before yesterday.” The current class struggle is a continuation of the class struggle throughout history. The struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools over the last 2.000 years or so still has its influence at present and has continued to this day. Using the Marxist stand, viewpoint, and method to sum up the past experience of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools is of great significance in further criticizing Lin Piao's counter-revolutionary revisionist line and the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius. In order to deepen the criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius, it is necessary to study diligently Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, conscientiously study some history books, study the history of the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools and the history of class struggle as a whole, read some books by the Legalists and integrate still better the historical experience with the current class struggle and two-line struggle to serve the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  "As far as the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers are concerned, there are a great many difficulties for them to study history. But this is only one part of the problem. The other is that they have the style of daring to think and do and of dauntlessly going forward, and that they dare to shatter old conventions and break with traditional ideas. The reversed history must be set right!' 'If we do not study the struggles between the Confucian and Legalist schools; who will!' Such heroic words by the Tientsin station workers fully manifest the fearless revolutionary spirit of the Chinese working class. Facts have proved that the workers, peasants and soldiers can use Marxism to study and learn history. Liberate history from the confines of the historians' lecture rooms and textbooks, and turn it into a sharp weapon in the hands of the masses—this is not only absolutely necessary but entirely possible.
  “Much work remains to be done to carry out the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius in a deep-going, popularized and sustained way. We should bring into full play the role of the workers, peasants and soldiers as the main force. We should make a big effort to encourage' their revolutionary heroism of dauntlessly going forward, advancing despite difficulties and never giving up until the goal is reached."


Source:Peking Review, No, 28, July 12, 1974
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org
  
  
  

 
 
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