50 years of the Cultural Revolution of China : Recall a magnificent event with indelible lessons for international communist movement

It was on 8 August, 1966, that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the great leader of the proletariat and architect of the Chinese Revolution, announced launch of the historic Cultural Revolution involving not only the party but the entire masses of people to nip in the bud the growing trend of modern revisionism posing serious threat to world revolution. It stirred not only socialist China but the entire world. The imperialist-capitalist world weaving continuous plots to destabilize socialist system and vilify the giant communist leaders as dictators, blood-thirsty, cruel and vindictive left no stone unturned to show it as a power struggle between Mao Zedong and his detractors. But the genuine communists and millions of progressive people round the globe who could sense this conspiratorial move and vile motive of the quarters of reaction, that included revisionists-renegades masquerading as Marxists, heartily welcomed and applauded this epoch-making step. SUCI (Communist) under the leadership of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the Founder General Secretary of the Party and one of the foremost Marxist thinkers of the era, supported and upheld the historic necessity and unique methodology of the great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. In course of his penetrating and illumining analysis, the essence of which we would recall later, Comrade Ghosh said, “I hold that this Cultural Revolution has a sound scientific basis, judged by the yardstick of Marxism-Leninism, and the way the CPC is conducting this Cultural Revolution is really magnificent and full of great significance. Communists all over the world, who have really dedicated themselves to the revolutionary movement, have a great deal to learn from it.”On the occasion of 50 years of this gigantic and unprecedented event in history, it is incumbent on all genuine communists to imbibe the immense significance and purposiveness of this magnificent effort of great Mao Zedong and draw necessary lessons from that so as to reinvigorate international communist movement on a stronger foundation that alone can free the world from the tentacles of ruthless capitalist oppression and repression wreaking havoc in people’s life.

 

The then world situation

In order to comprehend the immense significance of the Cultural Revolution of China, it is needed to first take into cognizance the then world political situation.  Usurpation of power by modern revisionists led by Khrushchev after death of Stalin in 1953 and marked revisionist-reformist deviation among leadership of many other communist parties, the revolutionary working class movement which received a tremendous boost after victory of Soviet Union over fascist axis and one third of the world turning socialist, received a jolt. Non-Marxist approach, politics of class collaboration, compromise on intensifying class struggle and policy of pacifist capitulation which the revisionist leadership of Russia began to pursue clearly marked a reversal process. Although CPC leadership at the outset joined others in hailing the declaration of Khrushchev leadership in the 20th Congress of CPSU as “illumining the path”, Mao Zedong soon understood the perniciousness of the step towards de-Stalinization and said that “there are two “swords”: one is Lenin and the other Stalin. The sword of Stalin has now been discarded by the Russians… We Chinese have not thrown it away… Unlike some people who have tried to defame and destroy Stalin, we are acting in accordance with objective reality.” Thereafter, a sharp ideological difference cropped up between CPC leadership and revisionist CPSU leadership and eventually the world communist movement and socialist camp was virtually divided into two as “Soviet line” and “Chinese line”. But the desired open polemics over ideological differences and thereby deducing correct Marxist line and approach was ever eluding. So the differences turned into bitterness and resulted in both the camps taking pot-shots at each creating further confusion in the revolutionary working class movement. Observing the developments, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh said that “even though the analysis of CPC on revisionism was in the main correct, the approach and manner in which they put their analysis suffers from mechanical approach and their mode of expression is of old style … they have not been able to develop, as I understand, the dialectical methodo-logical approach comprehensively and enrich its understanding in today’s perspective necessary for correct application”. (SW Vol.I p.321) The whole endeavour of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh was to point out the shortcomings to the CPC leadership as a fraternal party and strengthen Mao leadership so that CPC could play a positive and decisive role in fighting the menace of revisionism-reformism and prevent world communist movement from suffering a setback.

 

Shortcomings in ideological and political fields

It is pertinent to mention here that sensing rise of mechanical thought process as against dialectical thought process in the world Communist movement, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh was first to point  out  way  back  in  1948  that this “clearly indicates serious shortcomings in the ideological and political fields in the world communist movement” and if this was not rectified and resolved based on correct Marxist methodology, it might “push the present situation into a far deeper crisis in future.” When most of the communist parties including CPC had welcomed the Report submitted by the revisionist Khrushchev leadership in the 20th Congress of Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU) as one to “illumine the path”, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh warned that if the defects reflected in the Report were not removed in time, it would open “floodgate of revisionism”. Particularly when the Khrushchev leadership in the 22nd Congress of the CPSU adopted measures to not just denigrate but black out Stalin wrongly and wilfully accusing him of practising personality cult, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh warned that deliberate attempt by the Khrushchev leadership to reject Leninism, inviting all sorts of counter-revolutionary ideas to pass off as Marxism-Leninism and causing ideological set back to the very foundation of communist movement would lead thereby to “uncrowning Lenin himself.” He also said that “de-Stalinization in its wake will challenge the very understanding of Marxism-Leninism” as it was Stalin who provided the correct understanding of Leninism against its distortion by Trotsky, Bukharin, and some others. He further warned that this deliberate distortion would transgress the barriers of Soviet Union and pollute the leadership of the communist parties of other countries.   Repeatedly he gave call for freeing the communists’ process of thinking and movement from the influence of revisionism-reformism by openly discussing and debating important ideological issues based on correct methodology to resolve the differences, arrive at the truth and thereby strengthen world communist movement and cement solidarity among the world proletariat. He also rejected the argument that open discussion would disrupt unity as fallacious. Rather he showed, explaining the dialectics of the principle of “unity-struggle-unity”, that such open ideological struggle does not disrupt but firm up unity on a stronger base. But this warning went unheeded and what was feared did happen. Revisionism  which Lenin long back had defined as ‘infiltration of bourgeois ideology in the working-class movement’ and exhorted upon all to isolate such revisionists from working class struggle, continued to raise its ugly head and emasculate revolutionary working class movement as well as socialism from within.

 

Class struggle in socialism

Stressing on the necessity to intensify class struggle in socialism in order to protect it from counter-revolutionary attack and pave the way towards eventual attainment of classless communist society, Lenin was categorical in saying that “the transition from Capitalism to Communism represents an entire historical epoch. Until this Epoch has terminated, the Exploiters invariably cherish the hope of restoration, and this hope is converted into attempts of restoration.” Unambiguously stating the task of the communists in socialism, he said, “ Education workers, and the Communist Party …should consider it fundamental to help enlighten and instruct the working masse, in order to cast off the old ways and habituated routine we have inherited from the old system, the private property habits the masses are thoroughly imbued with. This fundamental task of the entire socialist revolution should never be neglected during consideration of the particular problems” (CW, Vol. 31,p 365) He elaborated further that “The bourgeoisie, whose resistance is increased tenfold by its overthrow (even if only in one country), and whose power lies not only in the strength of international capital, in the strength and durability of the international connection of bourgeoisie, but also in the forces of habit,… the class struggle waged by overthrown Exploiters against victorious vanguard of the Exploited, i.e. the Proletariat, has become incomparably more bitter. And it cannot be otherwise in the case of revolution, unless the concept is replaced by reformist illusions.” He explained that “The abolition of classes is a matter of a long, difficult and stubborn class struggle, which, after the overthrow of the rule of capital, after the destruction of the bourgeois state, after the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, does not disappear, but only changes its form, becoming, in many respects, bitter.” (Lenin, Greetings to the Viennese Workers, Collected Works, Vol. 24, p. 31).Recalling this teaching, Comrade Stalin also reiterated that “The more the socialist system and the socialist economy will be strengthened and consolidated, the more sharpened will be the class struggle.” (Problems of Leninism) Referring to the existence of various anti-Marxist and anti-revolution forces as well as influence of and danger of bourgeois ideology in both Soviet Communist Party and the society, Stalin in the report to the 19th Party Congress of CPSU drew attention to the fact that Soviet society as well as the party “…still have vestiges of the bourgeois ideology, relics of private property mentality and morality. These relics do not die away of themselves, they are very tenacious and may strengthen their hold,…nor are we guaranteed against the infiltration of alien views, ideas and sentiments from outside, from the capitalist countries or from inside, from the relics of groups hostile to Soviet State which have not been demolished by the party” because, he pointed out, “ideological work does not receive sufficient attention even in …party organization’’ and ‘‘…whenever attention to ideological questions is relaxed, a favourable soil is created for revival of views and old ideas hostile to us (in that event) the remnants of anti-Leninist groups by the party, will try to …utilize them for the promotion of their own line, for the revival and spread of all sorts of un-Marxist ‘opinions’ and ‘conceptions’.” It shows that he was gravely concerned at the absence of desired stress on continuously raising the ideological standard. Otherwise, he knew, the socialist system and world communist movement would face a great danger in the days to come. The long drawn Second World War, huge casualty of Soviet people including many equipped and front-ranking comrades took a heavy toll on CPSU and Soviet socialism. Earlier, imperativeness to prevent counter-revolutionary takeover by foiling conspiracies of imperialists-capitalists and their agents and cleanse the party necessitated purging of unwanted elements and renegades. All these stood in the way of releasing a powerful ideological-cultural revolution in Soviet Union with due expediency despite a towering revolutionary leader like Stalin in command. So, he gave a call in the 19th Congress of CPSU for releasing an intense and all-out ideological struggle, involving the entire party from the lowest level with the aim of completely wiping out the evil tendencies and influences of bourgeois ideology. But, before he could roll out concrete steps in this regard, he passed away and the revisionists-reformists taking advantage of the lowered ideological standard of the leaders, workers  and cadres of different categories of the party usurped power and the process of reversal ensued.

Chairman Mao also stressed on this from time to time. Warning about restoration of capitalism if revisionist line is pursued, overtly or covertly, he said “do classes exist in socialist countries? Does class struggle exist? We can now affirm that classes do exist in socialist countries and that class struggle undoubtedly exists. Lenin said: After the victory of the revolution, because of the existence of the bourgeoisie internationally, because of the existence of bourgeois remnants internationally, because the petti-bourgeoisie exists and continually generates a bourgeoisie, therefore the classes which have been overthrown within the country will continue to exist for a long time to come and may even attempt restoration…Old cadres must also study these problems and be educated. Otherwise a country like ours can still move towards its opposite. Even to move towards its opposite would not matter too much because there would still be the negation of the negation, and afterwards we might move towards our opposite again. If our children’s generation go in for revisionism and move towards their opposite, so that although they still nominally have socialism, it is in fact capitalism” (Speech in 1962) Propounding the genesis of Modern Revisionism, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh showed that though “revisionism could appear (in Soviet Union) because the economic ingredients conducive to breeding of revisionism were there…just the economic ingredients by themselves could not have brought it automatically. It is the low level of consciousness that increased this tendency.” (SW Vol. I) And what is the reason behind this low level of consciousness? In one word, as Comrade Ghosh explained, it is due to neglect of ideological struggle, undermining dictatorship of the proletariat, necessity to intensify class struggle in  socialism  particularly  in  realm of  mind  and  culture  and  failure to enrich Marxism keeping pace with the changing panorama and newer scientific  inventions  and discoveries.

 

Revisionism within CPC

In this backdrop, Chairman Mao was deeply concerned at the way the Khrushchevite leadership shelved the decision of the 19th Congress of CPSU to elevuate ideological-cultural standard and instead adopted a whole complement of retrograde measures in the economic, political and cultural fields led to an accelerating downhill slide, the USSR landing in total disaster. What had germinated initially as a problem due to laxity in the practice of dialectical relationship in communist organisations and communist movement opened the door to a virulent affliction and a myriad of problems. Moreover, what made Mao immensely concerned was that revisionist thoughts, aided and abetted by the Khrushchevite clique, were sneaking not only into the CPC but even some of its front-ranking leaders. These leaders including front-ranking leaders like Liu Shaoqi were also undermining, like the Khrushchevites, dictatorship of the proletariat as well as need of intensifying class struggle in socialism. He correctly apprehended that unless such revisionist trends, tendencies and deviations in thought, approach and practice were defeated through an intense ideological-cultural movement, it could not only set the stage where vices of all forms witnessed in capitalist societies could flood socialist China and pose a great danger to the CPC or the socialist system of China but endanger the entire world communist movement as well.

 

Launch of Cultural Revolution

It is in this backdrop that Mao as worthy continuer of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin took the decision to launch the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It had been absolutely necessary and timely for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, preventing the danger of a capitalist restoration, and consolidating socialism.Incidentally, taking note of this emerging ominous trend and pointing at imperative need of intensifying class struggle in the realm of mind in socialism to erase all vestiges of old obsolete thoughts and values,he, way back in 1957, sounded a note of caution that “In China, although in the main, socialist transformation has been completed with respect to the system of ownership…there are still remnants of the overthrown landlord and comprador classes, there is still a bourgeoisie, and the remoulding of the petty-bourgeoisie has only started. The class struggle by no means is over. The class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the class struggle between different political forces, and the class struggle in the ideological field between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie will continue to be long and tortuous and at times will even become very acute. The proletariat seeks to transform the world according to its own world outlook, and so does the bourgeoisie. In this respect, the question of which will win out, socialism or capitalism is still not really settled.”(On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People (February 27, 1957), pp. 51-52.) Programme of Cultural Revolution was purported to release this all-important ideological-cultural struggle along with struggle for rectification on a gigantic scale involving not only the CPC and its leadership but the entire masses of the people. Since revisionist deviation was noticed in a big way among some of the front-ranking leaders of the CPC, Mao wanted that one and all including the leadership should be subjected to fierce criticism so that they could in the dialectical process of criticism and self-criticism, rectify themselves. In September, 1965, at a meeting of the standing committee of the Polit Bureau, Mao forewarned saying “What are you going to do if revisionism appears in Central Committee? This is highly likely. This is the greatest danger.” In fact, by that time, there was a virtual division along two opposite lines—the revolutionary line of Chairman Mao and the counter line led by Liu Shaoqi. This difference virtually came into the open. So, he called upon all to fearlessly criticize the leadership, paste big character posters giving their views on the democratic wall and also draw appropriate lessons from all these to elevate their ideological standard, strengthen dictatorship of the proletariat, wipe out all reactionary bourgeois thoughts and feudal hangovers by launching intense class struggle and in the process cleanse the party leadership of revisionist-reformist deviation and protect socialism.

 

Directives of Cultural Revolution

The Central Committee of CPC in its circular dated 16 May, 1966 to all committees explained the method and programme of the Cultural Revolution. It stated that the aim of the revolutionary upheaval was to wage mass ideological struggle against revisionist elements who were trying to take the capitalist road in the Party, the State, the economy, the educational system and the cultural sphere. The Cultural Revolution began among the students in the colleges and universities which were the main bastions of bourgeois ideology. But it quickly spread to the communes and factories with workers and peasants criticising persons in authority who were taking the capitalist road, removing them from their positions and establishing direct proletarian control over economic enterprises and public administration by means of the setting up of Revolutionary Committees. This constituted a strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeois elements.

In the directives of 8 August, 1966, many invaluable teachings and observations by Chairman Mao were compiled to rouse the masses. It said, inter alia, that “In the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the only method is for the masses to liberate themselves, and any method of doing things in their stead must not be used.Trust the masses, rely on them and respect their initiative. Cast out fear. Don’t be afraid of disturbances. Chairman Mao has often told us that revolution cannot be so very refined, so gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. Let the masses educate themselves in this great revolutionary movement and learn to distinguish between right and wrong and between correct and incorrect ways of doing things … Make the fullest use of big-character posters and great debates to argue matters out, so that the masses can clarify the correct views, criticize the wrong views and expose all the ghosts and monsters. In this way the masses will be able to raise their political consciousness in the course of the struggle, enhance their abilities and talents, distinguish right from wrong and draw a clear line between ourselves and the enemy … A strict distinction must be made between the two different types of contradictions: those among the people and those between ourselves and the enemy. Contradictions among the people must not be made into contradictions between ourselves and the enemy; nor must contradictions between ourselves and the enemy be regarded as contradictions among the people…It is normal for the masses to hold different views. Contention between different views is unavoidable, necessary and beneficial. In the course of normal and full debate, the masses will affirm what is right, correct what is wrong and gradually reach unanimity…The method to be used in debates is to present the facts, reason things out, and persuade through reasoning. Any method of forcing a minority holding different views to submit is impermissible. …Even if the minority is wrong, they should still be allowed to argue their case and reserve their views … We must always show a way to the comrades who have committed mistakes, giving them a chance to reform themselves. Please do not deny other people a chance to correct their mistakes. Our policy is…to cure the disease in order to save the patient. We ‘first watch and then help’ and ‘unite criticize and unite’.”

These very directives are unique. Because, these reiterate clearly that genuine communists do not want blind support of the masses. On the contrary, they want  their mass base to be premised on conscious logical support. Following the directives, there was massive response from the people who enthusiastically participated in the gigantic effort towards determining the correct approach for strengthening socialism, evolving, framing and implementing correct policies on all important socio-economic-political-cultural issues. In an editorial on January 5, 1967, Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily), the organ of the CPC, wrote: “The Proletarian Cultural Revolution is aimed not only at demolishing all the old ideology and culture and all the old customs and habits, which, fostered by the exploiting classes, have poisoned the minds of the people for thousands of years, but also at creating and fostering among the masses an entirely new ideology and culture and entirely new customs and habits — those of the proletariat.”

 

Victory of Cultural Revolution

Finally, the scale and momentum of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the tremendous drive and momentum and boundless wisdom of the working people manifested in the movement far exceeded the imagination of the revisionist-reformist leaders like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping whom Mao called capitalist-roaders and representatives of the bourgeoisie in the party. Facts proved eloquently that Mao Zedong Thought became a colossal moral power once it took hold of the masses. As a result, the revisionist line pursued by Liu Shaoqi was defeated in 1969 and all revisionist-reformist leaders of the CPC Central Committee including Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were ousted from the party. But lest that should precipitate confusion and wrong perception about the very aim of this glorious Cultural Revolution and dilute the importance of continuing ideological battle against bourgeois thoughts and revisionist intrigue, Mao issued a warning to the communists of posterity saying that though “…struggles against the capitalist roaders in the Party is the principal task, but not the object. The object is to solve the problem of world outlook and eradicate revisionism….” “The old Social Democrats in the past decades, and modern revisionists in the past dozen years or so. . . have formed a group of anti-communist, anti-people, and counter-revolutionary elements against whom we are waging a life-and-death struggle. The relationship between us and them …is a relationship of one class oppressing another —  i.e. proletarian dictatorship over the bourgeoisie.” If world outlook is not reformed, then although 2,000 capitalist roaders are removed in the current great Cultural Revolution, 4000 others may appear next time…The struggle between the two classes and two lines cannot be settled in one, two, three or four Cultural Revolutions,…So, we must keep in mind the uprooting of revisionism and strengthen our capability to resist revisionism any time.” (People’s China) And then he said on 15 April, 1969 that “We have won a great victory. But the defeated class will continue to struggle. Its members are still about and it still exists. Therefore we cannot speak of the final victory, not for decades. We must not lose our vigilance. From the Leninist point of view, the final victory in one socialist country not only requires the efforts of the proletariat and the broad popular masses at home, but also depends on the victory of the world revolution and the abolition of the system of exploitation of man by man on this earth so that all mankind will be emancipated. Consequently, it is wrong to talk about the final victory of the revolution in our country light-heartedly; it runs counter to Leninism and does not conform to facts.” (Selected Readings) These very words of Chairman Mao eloquently bring to the fore what he envisaged when he spoke of unleashing such a gigantic Cultural Revolution.

The Cultural Revolution which has no parallel in history was thus poised to immensely advance the socialist cause of the Chinese people and undoubtedly to exert an incalculable, far-reaching influence upon the present and future of the world. Through this historic Proletarian Cultural Revolution Mao conducted the highest form of class struggle in socialism with profound revolutionary wisdom, agility and dexterous organizational skill.  It was not just one of his achievements and laudable contributions towards enriching Marxism-Leninism through uniquely creative and concretized application of Marxian science in the concrete situation of China. It would also continue to provide guideline to the communists the world over in their struggle for accomplishing and defending revolution. Yet, in a tragic twist to history, in almost a repeat of what happened in post-Stalin Russia following take over by revisionist Khrushchevite clique, the ousted revisionist leaders led by Deng Xiaoping managed to stage a comeback and usurp power after demise of Mao Zedong on 9 September, 1976.

 

Illumining analysis of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh

But the question that ought to stir the mind of every genuine communist and the right-thinking people how come after so successful first phase of Cultural Revolution under the leadership of a towering Marxist authority like Mao, the Deng leadership could capture power, whereupon he began pursuing the rightist-revisionist line in every sphere, systematically reversing the gains of Cultural Revolution, degenerating the CPC into a bourgeois party and finally dismantling socialism in China. To seek correct answer, one ought to get deeper into understanding the significance, contributions as well as limitations of the Cultural Revolution. And that cannot be done without   acquainting oneself with the exhaustive in-depth analysis of the Cultural Revolution based on correct Marxist-Leninist approach which Comrade Shibdas Ghosh provided way back in October, 1967. We do not know if there has been any other such scientific evaluation of this magnificent Cultural Revolution anywhere in the world. For paucity of space, we shall only highlight the main points of his brilliant analysis that is a unique contribution to the treasure-house of Marxism-Leninism and enables one to have an insight into a developed enriched understanding of this noble ideology.

As we have mentioned in the opening lines, Comrade Ghosh hailed the Cultural Revolution as magnificent. In his words, “This Cultural Revolution is the struggle to wipe out, both individually and collectively, all sorts of reactionary ideas from within the party and the society, administration, style of work, educational system and even from the fields of science and epistemology…The entire people have been given the right to openly criticize even the leaders and the executives of the party and the state. The party which can grant the people such a right and can take such a risk is not an ordinary party.…They are striving to achieve this unity dragging all points of differences and diversities into the vortex of struggle. Naturally, as a methodology, it is more scientific…they prefer to isolate these forces by involving the people in a countrywide battle and evolving thus a uniform opinion among them … this Cultural Revolution would provide to those who committed mistakes but are honest, who support socialism and are willing to move along the path of revolution, a chance to rectify themselves. And if the struggle is conducted in this way to generate a sense of partisanship, then those who would try to hide their true colours and pose themselves as innocent victims and hence not the real enemy of the people, would one day expose themselves. In this way it would be clear whether they are pretenders and are enemies, or have committed mistakes from genuine confusions’’ Continuing further, he said, ‘‘…when on the basis of either unanimous or majority decision, unity would be achieved through wider participation of the people in a struggle in which conflicts and interaction of diverse thinking and ideas take place — it would be a far more stable unity than before and hence there would be no apprehension among the people despite any disciplinary actions ultimately taken against anti-party leaders and cadres.” (SW Vol. I) This is how Comrade Ghosh fully endorsed the purpose and methodology of this historic move.

At the same time, he noticed certain shortcomings of Cultural Revolution that raised some doubts in his mind as to whether “it is at all possible to lead this Cultural Revolution to its logical culmination. Or…it will end up in a catastrophe.” What he was particularly concerned about was that some of the basic theoretical questions in regard to the cause of emergence of and lethal attack by modern revisionism in socialism and redefining the standard of a good communist in the backdrop of menacing rise of individualism, as well as the definite process of attaining the same, remained unresolved. While hailing the Chinese Cultural Revolution as a courageous effort, Comrade Ghosh drew attention to two very important issues, the features of a new type of ‘economism’ and a new type of ‘individualism’ appearing in socialist societies. To quote his words, “In the period of socialist economic reconstruction, there is a danger that a tendency of a new type of economism, of hankering for ‘material incentive’ and ‘benefit’ may grow among the common workers.” “The economism, in the period after revolution, obstructs the workers from being conscious of their responsibility as cadres of international proletarian revolution, hinders their sense of obligation to the society and dampens the urge for complete dedication and sacrifice which is essential for the individual’s freedom, growth and development.”… “As a result, behind the urge of a worker to produce more actually works his sense of privilege and material benefit … to reflect a mentality absolutely incompatible with the basic aim and object of socialism. Such a mentality breeds a typical individualistic and opportunistic trend among the workers.” … “In the socialist society of today, it is the old bourgeois concept of individual freedom and mental make-up that stands in the way of conducting a new struggle for the individual’s freedom and emancipation at this new stage”… “This economism-individualism in a socialist system… I have already termed as ‘socialist individualism’ ” … “it is obvious that the individual’s struggle for emancipation has reached a new and complex height and has assumed a new character in the socialist society where to resolve this problem, a more intense and arduous struggle is to be conducted for complete identification of the self-interest with the interest of society through unflagging dedication and constant vigil…The Chinese leadership, in my opinion, while fighting individualism, has moved close to grasping the root cause of the problem. But till now, they have not succeeded in providing a clear and precise theoretical basis of the problem.” ‘‘…while conducting the struggle for the complete victory of socialism, the main object of the struggle for emancipation of the individual should be to transform the antagonistic nature of contradiction existing between the individual necessity and social necessity into a non-antagonistic one”…”the ideal of surrendering the individual’s interest to social interest, adjustment of individual necessities with those of the society is nothing different from the ideals of bourgeois humanist values. Uptill  now, the highest standard of communist moral values was considered to have been reflected in this, and only they were considered to be the real communists who were able to surrender unconditionally and happily the individual interest to social interest, place the cause of the class, revolution and party above all and subordinate individual interest to the cause of the class, revolution and party”…(ibid) His observation that “a more intense and arduous struggle is to be conducted for complete identification of the self-interest with the interest of (socialist) society through unflagging dedication and constant vigil” (ibid) was more relevant in the vastly changing scenario of China where the phenomenon of ‘socialist individualism’ was in existence as well.

Thus, Comrade Ghosh not only provided us, following correct Marxist methodology, the genesis of the problem of rising individualism but also clearly stipulated the process to fight out and overcome this problem. It bears recall that Mao himself lamented with much pain and agony in 1966 that, because of lack of time and energy, he could not prepare answers to the new problems appearing in the new conditions of socialist reconstruction including the phenomenon of modern revisionism. It was Comrade Shibdas Ghosh who fulfilled that task by providing answers to all these fundamental questions, a philosophical insight into the problems breeding and nurturing individualism in socialism as well as genesis of modern revisionism and gave them an articulate form and provided a definite guideline of action to eradicate the problems. Alongside, he delineated what specific struggle one has to wage in the emerging new situation to become a good communist. This is where Comrade Shibdas Ghosh made a significant contribution to the treasure house of Marxism-Leninism and elevated its understanding to a new height.

And from this developed understanding of Marxism-Leninism, he could have the foresight to notice that though “the immediate objective of the Cultural Revolution will be fulfilled, for the present, with the completion of these tasks” of creating “such a condition that the entire Chinese nation can stand as ‘one man’ against all adversaries and cope with all the problems confronting their society by eradicating and freeing the people from the influence of these evils”, but “the present programme of Cultural Revolution will not be able to free the party completely from the danger of reappearance of revisionism in future.” Because, “they have not been able to correctly grasp the nature of this particular phenomenon” of ‘socialist individualism’, “comprehend  that philosophically and theoretically, nor have they been able to place their basic formulation about or pinpoint the character of individualism, that is, the phenomenon of individualism in a socialist society and, finally, they have not released, on the basis of a correct understanding, an all-out struggle embracing the leaders as well as the workers”…”This is one of the fundamental weaknesses of the present Cultural Revolution. If this weakness persists…If the leadership cannot get over these weaknesses and shortcomings in conducting theoretical and ideological struggles, then the apprehension of the reappearance of the trend of revisionism in future, which they are attempting to weed out from social life, will remain” … ‘‘and in absence of Mao Zedong and present leadership, revisionism may grow in the CPC and society in the very same way it grew in Soviet Union.’’ (ibid)

How prophetically true his words and forewarning have proved to be! If this analysis would have illumined the path and Mao Zedong Thought was supplemented by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought, what height could the class struggle in the realm of idea and culture attain and how decisive could have been the battle for dealing  crushing blow to revisionism that Mao envisaged and tried to release through Cultural Revolution. Consolidation of socialism in China could have played a crucial role in resurrecting world communist movement, inspire revolutionary movement in various countries including the constituents of former Soviet Union and erstwhile socialist countries of East Europe. Alongside, how elevated would have been the ideological-cultural standard of international revolutionary working class to not only bring back its past glory but change the correlation of forces in the world and rewrite history.

 

Setback after Mao’s demise

But, that was not to be for reasons stated above. Deng, later christened as Chinese Khrushchev, with the backing of the counter-revolutionary and reactionary forces, both within and outside China,  began the reversal process under the garb of providing socialism ‘a human face’, openly advocated in favour of private capital and later even commenting that  ‘It is glorious to be rich’. Deng, it may be recalled, was relieved twice of both his party and administrative posts during Mao’s life time.  But, after second readmission also, he, instead of rectifying himself, surreptitiously went on practising the same revisionist line, resorted to every possible trick step by step to gradual usurpation of more and more power, brought back all his accomplices and finally captured the highest position. This clearly proved that he was nothing but a renegade indeed, a pretender and all along kept his true colours hidden. Immediately after usurping power, he started tarnishing and blackening such a gigantic socialist movement like the Cultural Revolution by raising the bogey of disorder, denigrating Mao and challenging his authority. He and his accomplices began distorting Mao Zedong Thought so as to pave the path of deviation for the CPC along the revisionist line, of course with an aim to put a halt to the onward march of socialism in China and ultimately make counter-revolution successful and establish capitalism. The Deng group alleged that “the so called bourgeois headquarters inside the party headed by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping simply did not exist …labelling Liu Shaoqi a renegade…was nothing but a frame-up…The political conclusion concerning Liu Shaoqi drawn by the 12th plenary session of the 8thCentral Committee of the party and the disciplinary measure meted out to him were both utterly wrong.” “It was we and not the enemy at all who were thrown into disorder by Cultural Revolution” was the charge of Deng. The Deng clique accused Mao of making an “exaggerated estimation of class struggle in socialist society.”In fact, they virtually denied existence of class struggle in socialism, challenged and disapproved the very methodology of conducting the Cultural Revolution and like the modern Soviet revisionists who sought to destroy the sense of authority centring round Stalin by adopting the strategy of de-Stalinization only to ultimately distort and vulgarize Leninism itself, the Deng leadership first sought to shake the sense of authority centring around Mao, give a seal of approval to total neglect in developing the standard of consciousness of the people through all-out and relentless ideological battle against subtle and complex attacks of bourgeois ideology in socialism and in the process banish Marxism-Leninism as guiding philosophy raising slogan of ‘modernization’, ‘faster development through implementing weird ‘socialist market-economy’ (a euphemism for capitalist market theory) and thus foster revisionist deviation to finally restore capitalism. “Reform is China’s  Second Revolution”, commented Deng. He even ridiculed Mao’s emphasis on clash of ideas and ideological struggle by saying ‘‘Do not debate! It is one of my inventions.’’ What is noteworthy is that it was the rightist counter-revolutionaries or capitalist-roaders who attempted to plunge the country into chaos during Cultural Revolution so as to undermine the authority of Mao leadership, the party and the revolution during those eventful days. Many renowned journalists and authors like Hinton and Joan Robinson who wrote many books on Cultural Revolution based on their first-hand knowledge during extensive travel round China before and after this historic event vividly described how the right revisionists backed officially by the bourgeois headquarters organized large scale violence, torture and harassment of the volunteers of Cultural Revolution, let loose armed rightist guards on them, unleashed what is known as white terror, assaulted workers and peasants in many provinces and attempted to grab power by violent means. While Mao directed everyone to conduct ideological-cultural struggle peacefully, his detractors and revisionists reactionaries, being unable to combat his thoughts theoretically and on the anvil of logic and reason, adopted violence and terror as only way to put their ulterior motive into action. Later, the same rightists-revisionists played with the bogey of chaos, widespread bloodshed and killing during Cultural Revolution, to poison public mind, malign  Mao,  denigrate  his  image and authority in their bid to accomplish counter-revolution by firming  up  the  anti-Marxist revisionist line. Worth mentioning is the fact that while the right of the people  to  openly  criticize  the leaders of the party and the state as part of continuous ideological struggle was made a constitutional right by the Mao leadership in the form of a ‘right to expression’ and ‘putting character posters’ on the ‘democracy wall’, revisionist Deng leadership removed that constitu-tional provision under the pretext that “the so called right to ‘speak out, air views and hold debates in a big way and write big character posters’, actually obstructs  the promotion of socialist democracy.”

Ultimately, as inevitable consequence of relentless pursuit of worst form of anti-Marxist thoughts and policies as well as anti-Mao activities of Deng and his accomplices, counter-revolution in China  completed  in  2004 leading to establishment of capitalist economy in China economy. It was, thus, conclusively proved what Deng clique was after and why they pointed their guns at Chairman Mao and Cultural Revolution.

 

Valuable lessons for World Communist Movement to fight revisionism

With dismantling of socialism first in Soviet Union and then in China because of revisionist conspiracy aided and abetted by world imperialism-capitalism, the socialist camp ceased to exist and a unipolar world came into existence. In the current unipolar world, imperialism-capitalism is on a rampage and tightening its noose of ruthless oppression. On the other hand, dominance of modern revisionism in various forms in working class movement is posing biggest obstacle before growth and development of genuine revolutionary forces.Exploited people round the world who are often bursting forth in agitation against ruthless capitalist oppression are in desperate need of correct revolutionary leadership and direction to take their protest agitations to logical culmination instead of these fizzling out. Even the people of constituent countries of erstwhile Soviet Union and some of the former socialist East European countries are openly expressing desire to bring back socialism. In capitalist China also, people’s resentment against the rulers is crystallizing and followers of Mao Zedong are regrouping themselves based upon Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and conducting vigorous struggle against the capitalist state. It is reported that a new party named Mao Zedong People’s party has also been formed. (Times of India 09-09-2016)

It is in this backdrop that we present this brief discussion on the invaluable lessons of the great Proletarian Cultural Revolution along with where and why it stopped short of expectations of the communists the world over. We have also shown what danger modern revisionism poses and how Mao Zedong Thought and Comrade Shibdas Ghosh Thought can provide the beacon in freeing communist movement from the grip of revisionism. We hope it would throw light upon a chapter of human history which the reactionaries of all shades frantically try to wipe out from the memories of the generation alive and yet to come. We earnestly believe that our discussion, even if brief,  will act as a counter move to the sinister efforts of the reactionaries-revisionists and will be an eye-opener to one and all progressive minded people of the world particularly the genuine communists.

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