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 Grasping the Dialectical Concept of The Unity of Opposites

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Grasping the Dialectical Concept of The Unity of Opposites

by Yen Feng

Source: Peking Review, No. 51, December 19, 1975
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org


USING the dialectical concept of the unity of opposites, Chairman Mao's important instruction on the question of the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat profoundly reveals the internal contradictions in socialist society and points out the protracted, complex and tortuous nature of class struggle and the two-line struggle. Conscientious reading and study, grasping the dialectical concept of the unity of opposites and acting according to the inherent dialectics of objective things are of tremendous significance in our great struggle to combat and prevent revisionism and consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat.
   Chairman Mao has said: "Marxist philosophy holds that the law of the unity of opposites is the fundamental law of the universe. This law operates universally, whether in the natural world, in human society, or in man's thinking. Between the opposites in a contradiction there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change." (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) This means that all things in the world are contradictory entities. There is nothing which does not contain contradictions. Without contradiction nothing would exist and, of course, there would be no development to speak of. Consequently, in observing a thing we must be aware of its two mutually contradictory aspects, study how they coexist in a single entity and how they struggle with each other and, under certain conditions, how they transform themselves into each other. If we see only one aspect and not the other aspect as well and neglect the unity and struggle of Opposites, we shall commit metaphysical and idealist errors.

Contradictions Exist in Socialist Society

   Two contradictory aspects also exist in our socialist society. The struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between the socialist and capitalist roads is the principal contradiction in socialist society. Chairman Mao's important instruction on the question of theory is a profound and concrete analysis of socialist society. Chairman Mao has said: "In a word, China is a socialist country. Before liberation, she was much the same as a capitalist country. Even now she practise 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." This clearly tells us that on the one hand a dictatorship of the proletariat has been established and public ownership of the means of production has been realized, and "China is a socialist country"; on the other hand, there still are things which "differ very little from the old society" and there are vestiges of old things in the new. Two mutually opposing factors exist simultaneously; dying capitalism and growing communism are locked in struggle. Under the guidance of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line, the proletariat and the masses of revolutionary people adhere to the socialist road, developing the communist factors in a planned way. but the overthrown exploiting classes and the newborn bourgeois elements frantically try to safeguard moribund capitalism in order to turn back the clock of history. Consequently, the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between the socialist and capitalist roads is protracted, tortuous and sometimes very acute. This situation permeates the whole historical period of socialism.
   Lenin pointed out: "It follows that under Communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois right, but even the bourgeois state — without the bourgeoisie!" (The State and Revolution.) We are new in the midst of this period of historical development. "Without the bourgeoisie" does not mean that bourgeois elements no longer exist; it means that the reactionary rule of the bourgeoisie has been overthrown and a dictatorship of the proletariat has been established, and the proletariat and other working people have become masters of the state. As to "the bourgeois stale," this too does not mean that there is no essential difference between it and the original meaning of the bourgeois stale; it means that bourgeois right cannot as yet be completely eliminated and is in certain aspects allowed to exist legally, protected by the state, and under the dictatorship of the proletariat it can only be restricted. The proletariat has taken over state power and is exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie and public ownership of the means of production has been basically realized — this is its essential difference from the old bourgeois state. Economically and politically, however, it cannot completely get rid of bourgeois traditions and vestiges; hence no insurmountable chasm exists between them. This is why Chairman Mao has pointed out: "Therefore, if people like Lin Piao come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system."
   Inside the Communist Party of China there also exist two mutually contradictory aspects, that is to say, there also exists the struggle between the correct line and the incorrect line. This is a reflection within the Party of class contradictions in society and contradictions between the new and the old. Over the past fifty years or so there have been ten big struggles between the two lines inside our Party, four of which have taken place in the period of socialist revolution. Our Party's struggles against Kao Kang, Jao Shu-shih, Peng Teh-huai, Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao were acute manifestations of the fierce class struggle inside and outside the country. These chieftains of revisionist lines sprang out one after the other to pit themselves against the dictatorship of the proletariat; they had their social basis inside the country as well as certain international background. In short, it is determined by the objective law of class struggle and is independent of man's will. Throughout the whole historical period of socialism, there is the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between the socialist and the capitalist roads, and there is the threat of subversion and aggression by imperialism and social-imperialism. Thai is why the two-line struggle between Marxism and revisionism in the Party will inevitably go on for a long time. Even in the future when classes will be eliminated and communism realized, there still will be the contradictions between the superstructure and the economic base and between the relations of production and the productive forces and there still will be two mutually contradictory factors. Consequently, the struggles between the advanced and the backward and between the correct and the erroneous lines — which reflect these contradictions —will still exist. Chairman Mao said in 1971: "We have been singing the Internationale for fifty years, yet on ten occasions certain people inside our Party tried to split it. As I see it, this may happen another ten, twenty or thirty times. You don't believe it? You may not believe it. Anyhow I do. Will there be no struggle when we get to Communism? I just don't believe it. There will be struggles even then, but only between the new and the old, between what is correct and what is incorrect." Chairman Mao has always taken pains lo teach us to have a full understanding of the protracted nature of the two-line struggle.

Contradictions Transform Themselves Into Each Other

   The two mutually contradictory aspects of an objective thing arc not dead and rigid, but living, conditional and mobile and they transform themselves into each other. In socialist society, the communist factors and the capitalist factors and the proletariat and the bourgeoisie interact and interpenetrate and in given conditions transform themselves into one another. The proletariat is a vigorous revolutionary class and in the struggle against the bourgeoisie it continually grows and enlarges its strength, developing the socialist cause and forging ahead to the goal of communism. This is the principal aspect which plays the leading role. Although the bourgeoisie is daily declining, it is not resigned to its defeat but will again and again pit itself against the proletariat, launching attacks against the proletariat by using the vestiges in the economic, moral and intellectual fields left over from the old society, in addition to engaging in counter-revolutionary conspiratorial activities. It tries in every way to corrupt our revolutionary ranks and seek agents inside our Party and state organs in a vain attempt to restore capitalism. Consequently, two possibilities face us: forge ahead to communism, or go back to capitalism. As early as 1963, Chairman Mao sounded the warning to the whole Party: If classes, class contradiction and class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat are forgotten, "then it would not be long, perhaps only several years or a decade, or several decades at most, before a counterrevolutionary restoration on a national scale would inevitably occur, the Marxist-Leninist party would undoubtedly become a revisionist party, a fascist party, and the whole of China would change its colour. Comrades, please think it over. What a dangerous situation this would be!" We have won great victories in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, but we cannot say final victory has been won. Today the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road is still going on. Chairman Mao's important instruction on the question of theory is another reminder to the whole Party and the people of the whole country that if things are not handled correctly and well, capitalism could be restored in our country at any time. We must not treat this lightly.
   Whether the proletariat or the bourgeoisie will win and whether our society will advance or retrogress depends on certain conditions. The two aspects in struggle will not transform themselves unless there is a given condition which is none other than our Party's line. Chairman Mao has said: "The correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything." Our socialist cause will develop and advance when the line is correct, when we persist in continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, when bourgeois light is restricted and when all-round dictatorship is exercised over the bourgeoisie in the political, economic, ideological, cultural and other spheres at all times. Otherwise, our socialist society will move backwards if the line is incorrect, if bourgeois right is not restricted but wantonly enlarged and if capitalism is allowed to develop freely. We firmly believe that we can guard against and prevent a retrogression and restoration as has happened in the Soviet Union. This is because we have the Party's basic line for the historical period of socialism drawn up by Chairman Mao. This line correctly reflects the objective law of class struggle in the period of socialism and represents the fundamental interests of the broad masses and is thus the fundamental guarantee for the revolutionary cause Of the proletariat to advance from victory to victory.

The New Will Triumph Over the Old

   "The supersession of the old by the new is a general, eternal and inviolable law of the universe." (Mao Tsetung: On Contradiction.) The contradiction and struggle between the old and the new aspects in all things will inevitably end up with the new assuming the dominant position and defeating the old no matter how tortuous and repeated the struggle will be. As far as new things are concerned, setbacks are only temporary, and the general trend is that new things will develop and grow stronger and finally supersede the old. In the long period of socialist society, progress is the mainstream and the essence, whereas retrogression is only an eddy, a transient phenomenon. The restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union can only affect the pace of the international communist movement but will in no way whatsoever change the general trend of historical development. The first socialist country founded by Lenin has changed its political colour, but it can be said with certainty that after fierce and tortuous class struggle it ultimately will return to the path of Lenin. In 1962 Chairman Mao pointed out in his Speech at the Working Conference (Enlarged) of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China: "Although the leadership of the Soviet Party and state has now been usurped by revisionists, I would advise comrades to remain firm in the conviction that the masses of the Soviet people and of Party members and cadres arc good, that they desire revolution and that revisionist rule will not last long." Speaking about the inevitable defeat of plots by the bourgeoisie to restore capitalism in China, Chairman Mao said: "If the Rightists stage an anti-Communist coup d'etat in China. 1 am .sure they will know no peace either and their rule will most probably be short-lived because it will not be tolerated by the revolutionaries, who represent the interests of the people making up more than 80 per cent of the population." These theses affirm the incontrovertible truth that communism will inevitably triumph over capitalism.
   In his "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder, Lenin affirmed: "Communists should know that the future in any case belongs to them." Just as Chairman Mao has pointed out: "The future is bright; the road is tortuous." The revolutionary cause of the proletariat has already won great victories and will win still greater victories. That we can use the law of the unity of opposites to study problems, dare to recognize the protractedness of class struggle and the two-line struggle, face up to the acute question of the possibility of a capitalist restoration in the historical period of socialism and dare to proclaim all this to the revolutionary people of China and the rest of the world is an expression of our strength and our utmost confidence in the future, and this is the attitude of thoroughgoing dialectical materialists. No revisionist or idealist is capable of doing this. In order to persist in continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are now acting in accordance with Chairman Mao's teaching and doing "more reading of Marxist-Leninist works," learning to apply the dialectical-materialist viewpoint to observe and study problems, combating idealism and metaphysics, preventing rigidity in thinking and separation from reality and striving to overcome one-sidedness and subjectivism. As clear-headed revolutionaries, we must be aware that there is the danger of a capitalist restoration in the historical period of socialism, but we must above all recognize the inevitability of the ultimate triumph of Marxism-Leninism; we must not be blind to the arduous and tortuous struggle just because the future is bright, nor lose confidence because the struggle is long and tortuous and become halfhearted revolutionaries.

(Translation of an article in "Hongqi," No. 9, 1975. Subheads are ours.)

Source: Peking Review, No. 51, December 19, 1975
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org

  
  
  

 
 
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