Study Some History of Social Development
Study Some History of Social Development
Study Some History of Social Development
Study Some History of Social Development
by Tung Sung
Source: Peking Review, No. 33, August 15, 1975
THE Communist Party of China has always regarded the study of the history of social development as an important aspect in educating the cadres and the masses in Marxism. In the current movement of studying the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is necessary also to study some history of social development.
Grasping the Objective Law of Social Development
What, after all, should be our attitude towards the history of human society? Over a long period of time, there has been a fierce struggle between historical idealism and historical materialism. To safeguard their rule, the reactionary and decadent exploiting classes and their spokesmen invariably propagate the idealist conception of history to cover up and distort history as it is. It was only after the birth of Marxism that the miasma spread by the idealist conception of history has been thoroughly dispelled and the development of-human society has been given a truly scientific explanation. The Marxist materialist conception of history scientifically explains that as a result of its own movement of opposites human society has developed from a lower to a higher stage according to its law. It began with primitive society, followed by slave society, feudal society and capitalist society, and it finally moves inevitably into socialist and communist society. This is an objective law independent of man's will. Dealing with the historical process of social development, the history of social development helps us deepen our understanding of the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat and its historical mission, thus enabling us to better persevere in continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
By studying the history of social development, we can understand that the dictatorship of the proletariat is not something concocted by some revolutionary out of his imagination but is an indispensable stage in the entire process of development of human history, and that it is determined by the law governing the development of class struggle. In his letter to J. Weydemeyer (March 5, 1852), Marx said that "the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production." Socialist society is still within these "particular historical phases." In this society there exist not only the threat of aggression and subversion by imperialism and the danger of restoration by the overthrown landlord and capitalist classes but also the soil and conditions for engendering new bourgeois elements. The dictatorship of the proletariat "only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society." The proletariat which has seized political power can neither maintain its own rule nor fight for the abolition of all classes unless it persists in exercising dictatorship over the bourgeoisie.
The history of social development tells us: As in the case of classes, there were no states at the early stage of human history, nor will they exist eternally. The state is a product of the irreconcilability of class contradictions. Ever since human society was divided into classes, the ruling classes have always used the state machinery to suppress the resistance of antagonistic classes in order to uphold their own rule. To preserve their own rule, the slave-owners are bound to crack down on the slaves, the feudal landlord class is bound to suppress the peasants and the bourgeoisie has to impose its dictatorship over the working class. Likewise, the proletariat must exercise dictatorship over the bourgeoisie so as to uphold its own rule. This revolutionary dictatorship is something learnt from the counter-revolutionary dictatorship. "Such learning is very important. If the revolutionary people do not master this method of ruling over the counter-revolutionary classes, they will not be able to maintain their state power, domestic and foreign reaction will overthrow that power and restore its own rule over China, and disaster will befall the revolutionary people.” (Mao Tsetung: On the People's Democratic Dictatorship.)
The history of social development tells us: Every new social formation in history has emerged on the basis of the old society; it is a negation of the old society and differs from it in essence while at the same time it inevitably retains certain birth marks of the old society. After the emergence of class society, the replacement of an old social system by a new one invariably involves a long and complex struggle between restoration and counter-restoration. The soil and conditions necessary for the existence of restorationist forces arc the very birth marks carried over from the old society to the new. After overthrowing bourgeois rule by means of violent revolution, the proletariat establishes a socialist stale of the dictatorship of the proletariat; this marks a great leap in the history of development of human society and is a step of decisive significance in the transition from class society to classless society.
The socialist system is vastly superior to the capitalist system. In socialist society, the proletariat has turned from an oppressed and exploited class into a ruling class, the labouring people have become masters of The state and socialist public ownership of the means of production has replaced private ownership; nationization of industry and collectivization of agriculture have opened broad vistas for the development of social productive forces; ideological education in Marxism is gradually freeing hundreds of millions of labouring people from the ideological influence of the old society and guiding them to advance along the socialist road. Notwithstanding all this, since socialist society emerges from capitalist society, it is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with The birth marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.
Chairman Mao pointed out recently: "In a word, China is a socialist country. Before liberation she was much the same as a capitalist country. Even now she practises an eight-grade wage system, distribution according to work and exchange through money, and in all this differs very little from the old society. What is different is that the system of ownership has been changed." "Our country at present practises a commodity system, the wage system is unequal, too, as in the eight-grade wage scale, and so forth. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat such things can only be restricted/' Those things that differ very little from The old society, as pointed out by Chairman Mao, all have the "defects" of bourgeois right which still exists in socialist society. Studying the history of social development will bring home to us the fact that these "defects" are inevitable in the historical period of socialism and that they can gradually be overcome and finally eliminated only through persistent efforts over a long period of time in continuing the revolution in both the economic base and the superstructure and in developing socialist construction.
The history of social development tells us: The development of commodity-money relations did play a historical role in disintegrating the public ownership in primitive society. This promoted the development of society at that time. The capitalist system also has grown from the commodity economy of feudal society and is the highest stage in the development of commodity economy. This helps us understand that since there still are the commodity system and exchange through money in the present stage of socialism, they are bound to engender capitalism and the bourgeoisie. Though commodity production and exchange through money will still develop under the guidance of the state plan, bourgeois right in these two respects must be restricted and under no circumstances should they be allowed to undermine the socialist public ownership.
Struggle of Basic Social Contradictions Pushes Society Forward
The Marxist history of social development not only reveals the objective law of the development of human society from a lower to a higher stage, but also explains that the fundamental cause of the development of human society lies in the struggle of basic social contradictions, i.e.. the contradictions and struggle between the relations of production and the productive force?; and between the superstructure and the economic base. In class society, these basic contradictions manifest themselves as class struggle. The history of human society after the disintegration of primitive society is a history of class struggle. A good grasp of this point will enable us to come to a deeper understanding of the basic contradictions in socialist society and know how to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat well. Chairman Mao has pointed out: "The basic contradictions in socialist society arc still those between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base." (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) These basic contradictions are bound to find concentrated expression in class contradictions and class struggle. To carry the socialist revolution through to the end, the proletariat and other labouring people will continuously and systematically transform those parts of the relations of production and the superstructure which are incongruous with the productive forces and the economic base, so as to constantly consolidate and perfect the socialist relations of production and superstructure. On the other hand, the landlord and capitalist classes and their agents in the Party invariably do all they can to obstruct and sabotage this transformation in an attempt to prevent the socialist revolution from going forward and restore the old relations of production and superstructure. Such being the case, the basic contradictions in socialist society manifest themselves in the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between the socialist and capitalist roads. To propel the continuous advance of socialist society, we must persevere in the dictatorship of the proletariat, uphold the Party's basic-line, do a good job of the socialist revolution in the relations of production and the superstructure, keep on attacking the bourgeoisie and capitalism, suppress the resistance of the overthrown landlord and capitalist classes and reduce and dig out the soil giving birth to new bourgeois elements. Only thus can we gradually abolish classes and eliminate all birth marks left over from the old society and finally realize communism.
Socialism is bound to triumph over capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat is bound to replace the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. This is an objective law of the development of history. Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao and other swindlers like them frantically opposed the dictatorship of the proletariat, trumpeting the theory of the "dying out of class struggle" to sap the fighting will of the revolutionary people, vilifying the dictatorship of the proletariat as a "meat grinder," regarding the system and conception of private ownership which exist only in particular phases of social development as the common "'law" of all societies, and opposing and undermining the socialist public ownership. They did all these in a vain attempt to prevent the working class from displaying the communist spirit and use the ideology of bourgeois right to incite some people to oppose the socialist revolution. Their criminal aim was to protect the interests of the landlord and capitalist classes, preserve the birth marks left over from the old society and restore capitalism. These swindlers were doomed to failure because they moved against the trend of history, went against the law of social development and ran counter to the fundamental interests of the people. Nothing on earth can stem the onrushing historical tide of social development. Capitalism will surely be defeated by socialism which is bound to advance towards communism. We should clearly understand this inevitable trend of historical development, be firm in our revolutionary confidence, criticize revisionism and the bourgeoisie, go in Tor socialism in a big way and keep advancing towards communism.
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