On New Democracy

Proletarians of all countries, unite!
There is one goal, the conquest of power!


Chairman Mao Tse-tung
January 1940

Selected Works, Vol. 2
Foreign Languages Press
Peking 1965
Reproduced by
The Red Flag



A lively atmosphere has prevailed throughout the country ever since the War of Resistance began, there is a general feeling that a way out of the impasse has been found, and people no longer knit their brows in despair. Of late, however, the dust and din of compromise and anti-communism have once again filled the air, and once again the people are thrown into bewilderment. Most susceptible, and the first to be affected, are the intellectuals and the young students. The question once again arises: What is to be done? Whither China? On the occasion of the publication of Chinese Culture1, it may therefore be profitable to clarify the political and cultural trends in the country. I am a layman in matters of culture; I would like to study them, but have only just begun to do so. Fortunately, there are many comrades in Yenan who have written at length in this field, so that my rough and ready words may serve the same purpose as the beating of the gongs before a theatrical performance. Our observations may contain a grain of truth for the nation‘s advanced cultural workers and may serve as a modest spur to induce them to come forward with valuable contributions of their own, and we hope that they will join in the discussion to reach correct conclusions which will meet our national needs. To „seek truth from facts“ is the scientific approach, and presumptuously to claim infallibility and lecture people will never settle anything. The troubles that have befallen our nation are extremely serious, and only a scientific approach and a spirit of responsibility can lead it on to the road of liberation. There is but one truth, and the question of whether or not one has arrived at it depends not on subjective boasting but on objective practice. The only yardstick of truth is the revolutionary practice of millions of people. This, I think, can be regarded as the attitude of Chinese Culture.


For many years we communists have struggled for a cultural revolution as well as for a political and economic revolution, and our aim is to build a new society and a new State for the Chinese nation. That new society and new State will have not only a new politics and a new economy but a new culture. In other words, not only do we want to change a China that is politically oppressed and economically exploited into a China that is politically free and economically prosperous, we also want to change the China which is being kept ignorant and backward under the sway of the old culture into an enlightened and progressive China under the sway of a new culture. In short, we want to build a new China. Our aim in the cultural sphere is to build a new Chinese national culture.


We want to build a new national culture, but what kind of culture should it be?

Any given culture (as an ideological form) is a reflection of the politics and economics of a given society, and the former in turn has a tremendous influence and effect upon the latter; economics is the base and politics the concentrated expression of economics.2 This is our fundamental view of the relation of culture to politics and economics and of the relation of politics to economics. It follows that the form of culture is first determined by the political and economic form, and only then does it operate on and influence the given political and economic form. Marx says: „It is not the consciousness of humans that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.“3 He also says: „The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.“4 For the first time in human history, these scientific formulations correctly solved the problem of the relationship between consciousness and existence, and they are the basic concepts underlying the dynamic revolutionary theory of knowledge as the reflection of reality which was later elaborated so profoundly by Lenin. These basic concepts must be kept in mind in our discussion of China‘s cultural problems.

Thus it is quite clear that the reactionary elements of the old national culture we want to eliminate are inseparable from the old national politics and economics, while the new national culture which we want to build up is inseparable from the new national politics and economics. The old politics and economics of the Chinese nation form the basis of its old culture, just as its new politics and economics will form the basis of its new culture.

What are China‘s old politics and economics? And what is her old culture?

From the Chou and Chin Dynasties onwards, Chinese society was feudal, as were its politics and its economy. And the dominant culture, reflecting the politics and economy, was feudal culture.

Since the invasion of foreign capitalism and the gradual growth of capitalist elements in Chinese society, the country has changed by degrees into a colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. China today is colonial in the Japanese-occupied areas and basically semi-colonial in the Kuomintang areas, and it is predominantly feudal or semi-feudal in both. Such, then, is the character of present-day Chinese society and the state of affairs in our country. The politics and the economy of this society are predominantly colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal, and the predominant culture, reflecting the politics and economy, is also colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal.

It is precisely against these predominant political, economic and cultural forms that our revolution is directed. What we want to get rid of is the old colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal politics and economy and the old culture in their service. And what we want to build up is their direct opposite, that is, the new politics, the new economy and the new culture of the Chinese nation.

What, then, are the new politics and the new economy of the Chinese nation, and what is its new culture?

In the course of its history the Chinese revolution must go through two stages, first, the democratic revolution, and second, the socialist revolution, and by their very nature they are two different revolutionary processes. Here democracy does not belong to the old category — it is not the old democracy, but belongs to the new category — it is new democracy.

It can thus be affirmed that China‘s new politics are the politics of new democracy, that China‘s new economy is the economy of new democracy and that China‘s new culture is the culture of new democracy.

Such are the historical characteristics of the Chinese revolution at the present time. Any political party, group or person taking part in the Chinese revolution that fails to understand this will not be able to direct the revolution and lead it to victory, but will be cast aside by the people and left to grieve out in the cold.


The historical characteristic of the Chinese revolution lies in its division into the two stages, democracy and socialism, the first being no longer democracy in general, but democracy of the Chinese type, a new and special type, namely, new democracy. How, then, has this historical characteristic come into being? Has it been in existence for the past hundred years, or is it of recent origin?

A brief study of the historical development of China and of the world shows that this characteristic did not emerge immediately after the Opium War, but took shape later, after the first imperialist world war and the October Revolution in Russia. Let us now examine the process of its formation.

Clearly, it follows from the colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal character of present-day Chinese society that the Chinese revolution must be divided into two stages. The first step is to change the colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal form of society into an independent, democratic society. The second is to carry the revolution forward and build a socialist society. At present the Chinese revolution is taking the first step.

The preparatory period for the first step began with the Opium War in 1840, that is, when China‘s feudal society started changing into a semi-colonial and semi-feudal one. Then came the Movement of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, the Sino-French War, the Sino-Japanese War, the Reform Movement of 1898, the Revolution of 1911, the May 4th Movement. the Northern Expedition, the War of the Agrarian Revolution and the present War of Resistance Against Japan. Together these have taken up a whole century and in a sense they represent that first step, being struggles waged by the Chinese people, on different occasions and in varying degrees, against imperialism and the feudal forces in order to build up an independent, democratic society and complete the first revolution. The Revolution of 1911 was in a fuller sense the beginning of that revolution. In its social character, this revolution is a bourgeois-democratic and not a proletarian-socialist revolution. It is still unfinished and still demands great efforts, because to this day its enemies are still very strong. When Dr. Sun Yat-sen said: „The revolution is not yet completed, all my comrades must struggle on“, he was referring to the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

A change, however, occurred in China‘s bourgeois-democratic revolution after the outbreak of the first imperialist world war in 1914 and the founding of a socialist State on 1/6 of the globe as a result of the Russian October Revolution of 1917.

Before these events, the Chinese bourgeois-democratic revolution came within the old category of the bourgeois-democratic world revolution, of which it was a part.

Since these events, the Chinese bourgeois-democratic revolution has changed, it has come within the new category of bourgeois democratic revolutions and, as far as the alignment of revolutionary forces is concerned, forms part of the proletarian-socialist world revolution.

Why? Because the first imperialist world war and the first victorious socialist revolution, the October Revolution, have changed the whole course of world history and ushered in a new era.

It is an era in which the world capitalist front has collapsed in one part of the globe (1/6 of the world) and has fully revealed its decadence everywhere else, in which the remaining capitalist parts cannot survive without relying more than ever on the colonies and semi-colonies, in which a socialist State has been established and has proclaimed its readiness to give active support to the liberation movement of all colonies and semi-colonies, and in which the proletariat of the capitalist countries is steadily freeing itself from the social-imperialist influence of the Social-Democratic Parties and has proclaimed its support for the liberation movement in the colonies and semi-colonies. In this era, any revolution in a colony or semi-colony that is directed against imperialism, that is, against the international bourgeoisie or international capitalism, no longer comes within the old category of the bourgeois-democratic world revolution, but within the new category. It is no longer part of the old bourgeois, or capitalist, world revolution, but is part of the new world revolution, the proletarian-socialist world revolution. Such revolutionary colonies and semi-colonies can no longer be regarded as allies of the counter revolutionary front of world capitalism; they have become allies of the revolutionary front of world socialism.

Although such a revolution in a colonial and semi-colonial country is still fundamentally bourgeois-democratic in its social character during its first stage or first step, and although its objective mission is to clear the path for the development of capitalism, it is no longer a revolution of the old type led by the bourgeoisie with the aim of establishing a capitalist society and a state under bourgeois dictatorship. It belongs to the new type of revolution led by the proletariat with the aim, in the first stage, of establishing a new-democratic society and a State under the joint dictatorship of all the revolutionary classes. Thus this revolution actually serves the purpose of dearing a still wider path for the development of socialism. In the course of its progress, there may be a number of further sub-stages, because of changes on the enemy‘s side and within the ranks of our allies, but the fundamental character of the revolution remains unchanged.

Such a revolution attacks imperialism at its very roots, and is therefore not tolerated but opposed by imperialism. However, it is favoured by socialism and supported by the land of socialism and the socialist international proletariat.

Therefore, such a revolution inevitably becomes part of the proletarian-socialist world revolution.

The correct thesis that „the Chinese revolution is part of the world revolution“ was put forward as early as 1924-27 during the period of China‘s 1st Great Revolution. It was put forward by the Chinese communists and endorsed by all those taking part in the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle of the time. However, the significance of this thesis was not fully expounded in those days, and consequently it was only vaguely understood.

The „world revolution“ no longer refers to the old world revolution, for the old bourgeois world revolution has long been a thing of the past; it refers to the new world revolution, the socialist world revolution. Similarly, to form „part of“ means to form part not of the old bourgeois but of the new socialist revolution. This is a tremendous change unparalleled in the history of China and of the world. This correct thesis advanced by the Chinese communists is based on Stalin‘s theory.

As early as 1918, in an article commemorating the first anniversary of the October Revolution, Stalin wrote:

The great world-wide significance of the October Revolution chiefly consists in the fact that:

  • It has widened the scope of the national question and converted it from the particular question of combating national oppression in Europe into the general question of emancipating the oppressed peoples, colonies and semi-colonies from imperialism.
  • It has opened up wide possibilities for their emancipation and the right paths towards it, has thereby greatly facilitated the cause of the emancipation of the oppressed peoples of the West and the East, and has drawn them into the common current of the victorious struggle against imperialism.
  • It has thereby erected a bridge between the socialist West and the enslaved East, having created a new front of revolutions against world imperialism, extending from the proletarians of the West, through the Russian revolution, to the oppressed peoples of the East.“5

Since writing this article, Stalin has again and again expounded the theory that revolutions in the colonies and semi-colonies have broken away from the old category and become part of the proletarian-socialist revolution. The clearest and most precise explanation is given in an article published on June 30th, 1925, in which Stalin carried on a controversy with the Yugoslav nationalists of the time. Entitled „The National Question Once Again“, it is included in a book translated by Chang Chung-shih and published under the title Stalin on the National Question. It contains the following passage:

Semich refers to a passage in Stalin‘s pamphlet ‚Marxism and the National Question‘, written at the end of 1912. There it says that ‚the national struggle under the conditions of rising capitalism is a struggle of the bourgeois classes among themselves‘. Evidently, by this Semich is trying to suggest that his formula defining the social significance of the national movement under the present historical conditions is correct. But Stalin‘s pamphlet was written before the imperialist war, when the national question was not yet regarded by marxists as a question of world significance, when the marxists‘ fundamental demand for the right to self-determination was regarded not as part of the proletarian revolution, but as part of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. It would be ridiculous not to see that since then the international situation has radically changed, that the war, on the one hand, and the October Revolution in Russia, on the other, transformed the national question from a part of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a part of the proletarian-socialist revolution. As far back as October 1916, in his article, ‚The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up‘, Lenin said that the main point of the national question, the right to self-determination, had ceased to be a part of the general democratic movement, that it had already become a component part of the general proletarian, socialist revolution. I do not even mention subsequent works on the national question by Lenin and by other representatives of Russian communism. After all this, what significance can Semich‘s reference to the passage in Stalin‘s pamphlet, written in the period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia, have at the present time, when, as a consequence of the new historical situation, we have entered a new epoch, the epoch of proletarian revolution? It can only signify that Semich quotes outside of space and time, without reference to the living historical situation, and thereby violates the most elementary requirements of dialectics, and ignores the fact that what is right for one historical situation may prove to be wrong in another historical situation.“6

From this it can be seen that there are two kinds of world revolution, the first belonging to the bourgeois or capitalist category. The era of this kind of world revolution is long past, having come to an erid as far back as 1914 when the first imperialist world war broke out, and more particularly in 1917 when the October Revolution took place. The second kind, namely, the proletarian-socialist world revolution, thereupon began. This revolution has the proletariat of the capitalist countries as its main force and the oppressed peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies as its allies. No matter what classes, parties or individuals in an oppressed nation join the revolution, and no matter whether they themselves are conscious of the point or understand it, so long as they oppose imperialism, their revolution becomes part of the proletarian-socialist world revolution and they become its allies.

Today, the Chinese revolution has taken on still greater significance. This is a time when the economic and political crises of capitalism are dragging the world more and more deeply into the 2nd World War, when the Soviet Union has reached the period of transition from socialism to communism and is capable of leading and helping the proletariat and oppressed nations of the whole world in their fight against imperialist war and capitalist reaction, when the proletariat of the capitalist countries is preparing to overthrow capitalism and establish socialism, and when the proletariat, the peasantry, the intelligentsia and other sections of the small bourgeoisie in China have become a mighty independent political force under the directorship of the Communist Party of China. Situated as we are in this day and age, should we not make the appraisal that the Chinese revolution has taken on still greater world significance? I think we should. The Chinese revolution has become a very important part of the world revolution.

Although the Chinese revolution in this hrst stage (with its many sub-stages) is a new type of bourgeois-democratic revolution and is not yet itself a proletarian-socialist revolution in its social character, it has long become a part of the proletarian-socialist world revolution and is now even a very important part and a great ally of this world revolution. The first step or stage in our revolution is definitely not, and cannot be, the establishment of a capitalist society under the dictatorship of the Chinese bourgeoisie, but will result in the establishment of a new-democratic society under the joint dictatorship of all the revolutionary dasses of China headed by the Chinese proletariat. The revolution will then be carried forward to the second stage, in which a socialist society will be established in China.

This is the fundamental characteristic of the Chinese revolution of today, of the new revolutionary process of the past 20 years (counting from the May 4th Movement of 1919), and its concrete living essence.


The new historical characteristic of the Chinese revolution is its division into two stages, the first being the new-democratic revolution. How does this manifest itself concretely in internal political and economic relations? Let us consider the question.

Before the May 4th Movement of 1919 (which occurred after the first imperialist world war of 1914 and the Russian October Revolution of 1917), the small bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie (through their intellectuals) were the political leaders of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The Chinese proletariat had not yet appeared on the political scene as an awakened and independent class force, but participated in the revolution only as a follower of the small bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie. Such was the case with the proletariat at the time of the Revolution of 1911.

After the May 4th Movement, the political leader of China‘s bourgeois-democratic revolution was no longer the bourgeoisie but the proletariat, although the national bourgeoisie continued to take part in the revolution. The Chinese proletariat rapidly became an awakened and independent political force as a result of its maturing and of the influence of the Russian revolution. It was the Communist Party of China that put forward the slogan „Down with imperialism!“ and the thoroughgoing programme for the whole bourgeois-democratic revolution, and it was the Communist Party of China alone that carried out the Agrarian Revolution.

Being a bourgeoisie in a colonial and semi-colonial country and oppressed by imperialism, the Chinese national bourgeoisie retains a certain revolutionary quality at certain periods and to a certain degree — even in the era of imperialism — in its opposition to the foreign imperialists and the domestic governments of bureaucrats and warlords (instances of opposition to the latter can be found in the periods of the Revolution of 1911 and the Northern Expedition), and it may ally itself with the proletariat and the small bourgeoisie against such enemies as it is ready to oppose. In this respect the Chinese bourgeoisie differs from the bourgeoisie of old tsarist Russia. Since tsarist Russia was a military-feudal imperialism which carried on aggression against other countries, the Russian bourgeoisie was entirely lacking in revolutionary quality. There, the task of the proletariat was to oppose the bourgeoisie, not to unite with it. But China‘s national bourgeoisie has a revolutionary quality at certain periods and to a certain degree, because China is a colonial and semi-colonial country which is a victim of aggression. Here, the task of the proletariat is to form a united front with the national bourgeoisie against imperialism and the bureaucrat and warlord governments without overlooking its revolutionary quality.

At the same time, however, being a bourgeois class in a colonial and semi-colonial country and so being extremely flabby economically and politically, the Chinese national bourgeoisie also has another quality, namely, a proneness to conciliation with the enemies of the revolution. Even when it takes part in the revolution, it is unwilling to break with imperialism completely and, moreover, it is closely associated with the exploitation of the rural areas through land rent; thus it is neither willing nor able to overthrow imperialism, and much less the feudal forces, in a thorough way. So neither of the two basic problems or tasks of China‘s bourgeois-democratic revolution can be solved or accomplished by the national bourgeoisie. As for China‘s big bourgeoisie, which is represented by the Kuomintang, all through the long period from 1927 to 1937 it nestled in the arms of the imperialists and formed an alliance with the feudal forces against the revolutionary people. In 1927 and for some time afterwards, the Chinese national bourgeoisie also followed the counter-revolution. During the present anti-Japanese war, the section of the big bourgeoisie represented by Wang Ching-wei has capitulated to the enemy, which constitutes a fresh betrayal on the part of the big bourgeoisie. In this respect, then, the bourgeoisie in China differs from the earlier bourgeoisie of the European and American countries, and especially of France. When the bourgeoisie in those countries, and especially in France, was still in its revolutionary era, the bourgeois revolution was comparatively thorough, whereas the bourgeoisie in China lacks even this degree of thoroughness.

Possible participation in the revolution on the one hand and proneness to conciliation with the enemies of the revolution on the other — such is the dual character of the Chinese bourgeoisie, it faces both ways. Even the bourgeoisie in European and American history had shared this dual character. When confronted by a formidable enemy, they united with the workers and peasants against him, but when the workers and peasants awakened, they turned round to unite with the enemy against the workers and peasants. This is a general rule applicable to the bourgeoisie everywhere in the world, but the trait is more pronounced in the Chinese bourgeoisie.

In China, it is perfectly clear that whoever can lead the people in overthrowing imperialism and the forces of feudalism can win the people‘s confidence, because these two, and especially imperialism, are the mortal enemies of the people. Today, whoever can lead the people in driving out Japanese imperialism and introducing democratic government will be the saviours of the people. History has proved that the Chinese bourgeoisie cannot fulfil this responsibility, which inevitably falls upon the shoulders of the proletariat.

Therefore, the proletariat, the peasantry, the intelligentsia and the other sections of the small bourgeoisie undoubtedly constitute the basic forces determining China‘s fate. These classes, some already awakened and others in the process of awakening, will necessarily become the basic components of the state and governmental structure in the democratic republic of China, with the proletariat as the leading force. The Chinese democratic republic which we desire to establish now must be a democratic republic under the joint dictatorship of all anti-imperialist and anti-feudal people led by the proletariat, that is, a new-democratic republic, a republic of the genuinely revolutionary new „Three People‘s Principles“ with their „Three Great Policies“.

This new-democratic republic will be different from the old European-American form of capitalist republic under bourgeois dictatorship, which is the old democratic form and already out of date. On the other hand, it will also be different from the socialist republic of the council type under the dictatorship of the proletariat which is already flourishing in the Union of Socialist Council Republics, and which, moreover, will be established in all the capitalist countries and will undoubtedly become the dominant form of state and governmental structure in all the in dustrially advanced countries. However, for a certain historical period, this form is not suitable for the revolutions in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. During this period, therefore, a third form of State must be adopted in the revolutions of all colonial and semi-colonial countries, namely, the new-democratic republic. This form suits a certain historical period and is therefore transitional; nevertheless, it is a form which is necessary and cannot be dispensed with.

Thus the numerous types of State system in the world can be reduced to three basic kinds according to the class character of their political power:

  • Republics under bourgeois dictatorship.
  • Republics under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  • Republics under the joint dictatorship of several revolutionary classes.

The first kind comprises the old democratic States. Today, after the outbreak of the second imperialist war, there is hardly a trace of democracy in many of the capitalist countries, which have come or are coming under the bloody militarist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Certain countries under the joint dictatorship of the landlords and the bourgeoisie can be grouped with this kind.

The second kind exists in the Soviet Union, and the conditions for its birth are ripening in capitalist countries. In the future, it will be the dominant form throughout the world for a certain period.

The third kind is the transitional form of State to be adopted in the revolutions of the colonial and semi-colonial countries. Each of these revolutions will necessarily have specific characteristics of its own, but these will be minor variations on a general theme. So long as they are revolutions in colonial or semi-colonial countries, their State and governmental structure will of necessity be basically the same, that is, a new-democratic State under the joint dictatorship of several anti-imperialist classes. In present-day China, the anti-Japanese united front represents the new-democratic form of state. It is anti Japanese and anti-imperialist; it is also a united front, an alliance of several revolutionary classes. But unfortunately, despite the fact that the war has been going on for so long, the work of introducing democracy has hardly started in most of the country outside the democratic anti-Japanese base areas under the directorship of the Communist Party, and the Japanese imperialists have exploited this fundamental weakness to stride into our country. If nothing is done about it, our national future will be gravely imperilled.

The question under discussion here is that of the „State system“. After several decades of wrangling since the last years of the Ching Dynasty, it has still not been cleared up. Actually it is simply a question of the status of the various social classes within the State. The bourgeoisie, as a rule, conceals the problem of class status and carries out its one-class dictatorship under the „national“ label. Such concealment is of no advantage to the revolutionary people and the matter should be clearly explained to them. The term „national“ is all right, but it must not include counter-revolutionaries and traitors. The kind of State we need today is a dictatorship of all the revolutionary classes over the counter-revolutionaries and traitors.

The so-called democratic system in modern States is usually monopolized by the bourgeoisie and has become simply an instrument for oppressing the common people. On the other hand, the Kuomintang‘s ‚Principle of Democracy‘ means a democratic system shared by all the common people and not privately owned by the few.“

Such was the solemn declaration made in the Manifesto of the 1st National Congress of the Kuomintang, held in 1924 during the period of Kuomintang-Communist Party cooperation. For 16 years the Kuomintang has violated this declaration and as a result it has created the present grave national crisis. This is a gross blunder, which we hope the Kuomintang will correct in the cleansing flames of the anti-Japanese war.

As for the question of „the system of government“, this is a matter of how political power is organized, the form in which one social class or another chooses to arrange its apparatus of political power to oppose its enemies and protect itself. There is no state which does not have an appropriate apparatus of political power to represent it. China may now adopt a system of people‘s congresses, from the national people‘s congress down to the provincial, county, district and township people‘s congresses, with all levels electing their respective governmental bodies. But if there is to be a proper representation for each revolutionary class according to its status in the State, a proper expression of the people‘s will, a proper direction for revolutionary struggles and a proper manifestation of the spirit of new democracy, then a system of really universal and equal suffrage, irrespective of sex, creed, property or education, must be introduced. Such is the system of democratic centralism. Only a government based on democratic centralism can fully express the will of all the revolutionary people and fight the enemies of the revolution most effectively. There must be a spirit of refusal to be „privately owned by the few“ in the government and the army; without a genuinely democratic system this cannot be attained and the system of government and the state system will be out of harmony.

The state system, a joint dictatorship of all the revolutionary classes and the system of government, democratic centralism — these constitute the politics of new democracy, the republic of new democracy, the republic of the anti-Japanese united front, the republic of the new „Three People‘s Principles“ with their „Three Great Policies“, the Republic of China in reality as well as in name. Today we have a Republic of China in name but not in reality, and our present task is to create the reality that will fit the name.

Such are the internal political relations which a revolutionary China, a China fighting Japanese aggression, should and must establish without fail; such is the orientation, the only correct orientation, for our present work of national reconstruction.


If such a republic is to be established in China, it must be new-democratic not only in its politics but also in its economy.

It will own the big banks and the big industrial and commercial enterprises.

Enterprises, such as banks, railways and airlines, whether Chinese-owned or foreign-owned, which are either monopolistic in character or too big for private management, shall be operated and administered by the State, so that private capital cannot dominate the livelihood of the people: this is the main principle of the regulation of capital.

This is another solemn dedaration in the Manifesto of the Kuomintang‘s 1st National Congress held during the period of Kuomintang Communist Party cooperation, and it is the correct policy for the economic structure of the new-democratic republic. In the new-democratic republic under the leadership of the proletariat, the State enterprises will be of a socialist character and will constitute the leading force in the whole national economy, but the republic will neither confiscate capitalist private property in general nor forbid the development of such capitalist production as does not „dominate the livelihood of the people“, for China‘s economy is still very backward.

The republic will take certain necessary steps to confiscate the land of the landlords and distribute it to those peasants having little or no land, carry out Dr. Sun Yat-sen‘s slogan of „land to the tiller“, abolish feudal relations in the rural areas, and turn the land over to the private ownership of the peasants. A rich peasant economy will be allowed in the rural areas. Such is the policy of „equalization of landownership“. „Land to the tiller“ is the correct slogan for this policy. In general, socialist agriculture will not be established at this stage, though various types of cooperative enterprises developed on the basis of „land to the tiller“ will contain elements of socialism.

China‘s economy must develop along the path of the „regulation of capital“ and the „equalization of landownership“, and must never be „privately owned by the few“; we must never permit the few capitalists and landlords to „dominate the livelihood of the people“; we must never establish a capitalist society of the European-American type or allow the old semi-feudal society to survive. Whoever dares to go counter to this line of advance will certainly not succeed but will run into a brick wall.

Such are the internal economic relations which a revolutionary China, a China fighting Japanese aggression, must and necessarily will establish.

Such is the economy of new democracy.

And the politics of new democracy are the concentrated expression of the economy of new democracy.


More than 90% of the people are in favour of a republic of this kind with its new-democratic politics and new-democratic economy; there is no alternative road.

What about the road to a capitalist society under bourgeois dictatorship? To be sure, that was the old road taken by the European and U.S. bourgeoisie, but whether one likes it or not, neither the international nor the domestic situation allows China to do the same.

Judging by the international situation, that road is blocked. In its fundamentals, the present international situation is one of a struggle between capitalism and socialism, in which capitalism is on the down grade and socialism on the upgrade. In the first place international capitalism, or imperialism, will not permit the establishment in China of a capitalist society under bourgeois dictatorship. Indeed the history of modern China is a history of imperialist aggression, of imperialist opposition to China‘s independence and to her development of capitalism. Earlier revolutions failed in China because imperialism strangled them, and innumerable revolutionary martyrs died, bitterly lamenting the non-fulfilment of their mission. Today a powerful Japanese imperialism is forcing its way into China and wants to reduce her to a colony; it is not China that is developing Chinese capitalism but Japan that is developing Japanese capitalism in our country; and it is not the Chinese bourgeoisie but the Japanese bourgeoisie that is exercising dictatorship in our country. True enough, this is the period of the final struggle of dying imperialism — imperialism is „moribund capitalism“.7 But just because it is dying, it is all the more dependent on colonies and semi-colonies for survival and will certainly not allow any colony or semi-colony to establish anything like a capitalist society under the dictatorship of its own bourgeoisie. Just because Japanese imperialism is bogged down in serious economic and political crises, just because it is dying, it must invade China and reduce her to a colony, thereby blocking the road to bourgeois dictatorship and national capitalism in China.

In the second place, socialism will not permit it. All the imperialist powers in the world are our enemies, and China cannot possibly gain its independence without the assistance of the land of socialism and the international proletariat. That is, she cannot do so without the help of the Soviet Union and the help which the proletariat of Japan, Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy and other countries provide through their struggles against capitalism. Although no one can say that the victory of the Chinese revolution must wait upon the victory of the revolution in all of these countries, or in one or two of them, there is no doubt that we cannot win without the added strength of their proletariat. In particular, Soviet assistance is absolutely indispensable for China‘s final victory in the War of Resistance. Refuse Soviet assistance, and the revolution will fail. Don‘t the anti-Soviet campaigns from 1927 onwards8 provide an extraordinarily clear lesson? The world today is in a new era of wars and revolutions, an era in which capitalism is unquestionably dying and socialism is unquestionably prospering. In these circumstances, would it not be sheer fantasy to desire the establishment in China of a capitalist society under bourgeois dictatorship after the defeat of imperialism and feudalism?

Even though the small kemalist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie9 did emerge in Turkey after the first imperialist world war and the October Revolution owing to certain specific conditions (the bourgeoisie‘s success in repelling Greek aggression and the weakness of the proletariat), there can be no second Turkey, much less a „Turkey“ with a population of 450,000,000, after the 2nd World War and the accomplishment of socialist construction in the Soviet Union. In the specific conditions of China (the flabbiness of the bourgeoisie with its proneness to conciliation and the strength of the proletariat with its revolutionary thoroughness), things just never work out so easily as in Turkey. Did not some members of the Chinese bourgeoisie clamour for kemalism after the 1st Great Revolution failed in 1927? But where is China‘s Kemal? And where are China‘s bourgeois dictatorship and capitalist society? Besides, even kemalist Turkey eventually had to throw itself into the arms of Anglo-French imperialism, becoming more and more of a semi-colony and part of the reactionary imperialist world. In the international situation of today, the „heroes“ in the colonies and semi-colonies either line up on the imperialist front and become part of the forces of world counter-revolution, or they line up on the anti-imperialist front and become part of the forces of world revolution. They must do one or the other, for there is no third choice.

Judging by the domestic situation, too, the Chinese bourgeoisie should have learned its lesson by now. No sooner had the strength of the proletariat and of the peasant and other small bourgeois masses brought the revolution of 1927 to victory than the capitalist class, headed by the big bourgeoisie, kicked the masses aside, seized the fruits of the revolution, formed a counter-revolutionary alliance with imperialism and the feudal forces, and strained themselves to the limit in a war of „communist suppression“ for ten years. But what was the upshot? Today, when a powerful enemy has penetrated deep into our territory and the anti-Japanese war has been going on fot two years, is it possible that there are still people who want to copy the obsolete recipes of the European and U.S. bourgeoisie? A decade was spent on „suppressing the communists“ out of existence, but no capitalist society under bourgeois dictatorship was „suppressed“ into existence. Is it possible that there are still people who want to have another try? True, a „one-party dictatorship“ was „suppressed“ into existence through the decade of „communist suppression“, but it is a semi-colonial and semi-feudal dictatorship. What is more, at the end of four years of „communist suppression“ (from 1927 to the Incident of September 18th, 1931), „Manchukuo“ was „suppressed“ into existence and in 1937, after another six years of such „suppression“, the Japanese imperialists made their way into China south of the Great Wall. Today if anyone wants to carry on „suppression“ for another decade, it would mean a new type of „communist suppression“, somewhat different from the old. But is there not one fleet-footed person who has already outstripped everyone else and boldly under taken this new enterprise of „communist suppression“? Yes, Wang Ching-wei, who has become the new-style anti-communist celebrity. Anyone who wishes to join his gang can please themself; but wouldn‘t that turn out to be an added embarrassment when talking big about bourgeois dictatorship, capitalist society, kemalism, a modern State, a one-party dictatorship, „one doctrine“, and so on and so forth? And if, instead of joining the Wang Ching-wei gang, someone wants to come into the „fight Japan“ camp of the people but imagines that once the war is won they will be able to kick aside the people fighting Japan, seize the fruits of the victory of the fight against Japan and establish a „perpetual one-party dictatorship“, aren‘t they just daydreaming? „Fight Japan!“ „Fight Japan!“ But who is doing the fighting? Without the workers and the peasants and other sections of the small bourgeoisie, you cannot move a step. Anyone who still dares to try and kick them aside will himself be crushed. Hasn‘t this, too, become a matter of common sense? But the die-hards among the Chinese bourgeoisie (I am referring solely to the die-hards) seem to have learned nothing in the past 20 years. Aren‘t they still shouting: „Restrict communism!“, „Corrode communism!“ and „Combat communism!“? Haven‘t we seen „Measures for Restricting the Activities of Alien Parties“ followed by „Measures for Dealing with the Alien Party Problem“ and still later by „Directives for Dealing with the Alien Party Problem“? Heavens! With all this „restricting“ and „dealing with“ going on, one wonders what kind of future they are preparing for our nation and for themselves! We earnestly and sincerely advise these gentlemen: Open your eyes, take a good look at China and the world, see how things stand inside as well as outside the country, and do not repeat your mistakes. If you persist in your mistakes, the future of our nation will of course be disastrous, but I am sure things will not go well with you either. This is absolutely true, absolutely certain. Unless the die-hards among the Chinese bourgeoisie wake up, their future will be far from bright — they will only bring about their own destruction. Therefore we hope that China‘s anti-Japanese united front will be maintained and that, with the cooperation of all instead of the monopoly of a single clique, the anti-Japanese cause will be brought to victory; it is the only good policy — any other policy is bad. This is the sincere advice we Communists are giving, and do not blame us for not having forewarned you.

If there is food, let everyone share it.“ This old Chinese saying contains much truth. Since we all share in fighting the enemy, we should all share in eating, we should all share in the work to be done, and we should all share access to education. Such attitudes as „I and I alone will take everything“ and „no one dare harm me“ are nothing but the old tricks of feudal lords which simply will not work in the 1940s.

We communists will never push aside anyone who is revolutionary; we shall persevere in the united front and practise long-term cooperation with all those classes, strata, political parties and groups and individuals that are willing to fight Japan to the end. But it will not do if certain people want to push aside the Communist Party it will not do if they want to split the united front. China must keep on fighting Japan, uniting and moving forward, and we cannot tolerate anyone who tries to capitulate, cause splits or move backward.


If the capitalist road of bourgeois dictatorship is out of the question, then is it possible to take the socialist road of proletarian dictatorship?

No, that is not possible either.

Without a doubt, the present revolution is the first step, which will develop into the second step, that of socialism, at a later date. And China will attain true happiness only when she enters the socialist era. But today is not yet the time to introduce socialism. The present task of the revolution in China is to fight imperialism and feudalism, and socialism is out of the question until this task is completed. The Chinese revolution cannot avoid taking the two steps, first of new democracy and then of socialism. Moreover, the first step will need quite a long time and cannot be accomplished overnight. We are not utopians and cannot divorce ourselves from the actual conditions confronting us.

Certain malicious propagandists, deliberately confusing these two distinct revolutionary stages, advocate the so-called theory of a single revolution in order to prove that the „Three People‘s Principles“ apply to all kinds of revolutions and that communism therefore loses its reason to exist. Utilizing this „theory“, they frantically oppose communism and the Communist Party, the 8th Route and New 4th Armies, and the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region. Their real purpose is to root out all revolution, to oppose a thoroughgoing bourgeois-democratic revolution and thoroughgoing resistance to Japan and to prepare public opinion for their capitulation to the Japanese aggressors. This is deliberately being fostered by the Japanese imperialists. Since their occupation of Wuhan, they have come to realize that military force alone cannot subjugate China and have therefore resorted to political offensives and economic blandishments. Their political offensives consist in tempting wavering elements in the anti-Japanese camp, splitting the united front and undermining Kuomintang-Communist Party cooperation. Their economic blandishments take the form of the so-called joint industrial enterprises. In central and southern China the Japanese aggressors are allowing Chinese capitalists to invest 51% of the capital in such enterprises, with Japanese capital making up the other 49%; in northern China they are allowing Chinese capitalists to invest 49% of the capital, with Japanese capital making up the other 51%. The Japanese invaders have also promised to restore the former assets of the Chinese capitalists to them in the form of capital shares in the investment. At the prospect of profits, some conscienceless capitalists forget all moral principles and itch to have a go. One section, represented by Wang Ching-wei, has already capitulated. Another section lurking in the anti-Japanese camp would also like to cross over. But, with the cowardice of thieves, they fear that the communists will block their exit and, what is more, that the common people will brand them as traitors. So they have put their heads together and decided to prepare the ground in cultural circles and through the press. Having determined on their policy, they have lost no time in hiring some „metaphysics-mongers“10 plus a few trotskyites who, brandishing their pens like lances, are tilting in all directions and creating bedlam. Hence the whole bag of tricks for deceiving those who do not know what is going on in the world around them — the „theory of a single revolution“, the tales that communism does not suit the national conditions of China, that there is no need for a Communist Party in China, that the 8th Route and the New 4th Armies are sabotaging the anti-Japanese war and are merely moving about without fighting, that the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region is a feudal-separatist regime, that the Communist Party is disobedient, dissident, intriguing and disruptive — and all for the purpose of providing the capitalists with good grounds for getting their 49 or 51% and selling out the nation‘s interests to the enemy at the opportune moment. This is „stealing the beams and pillars and replacing them with rotten timbers“ — preparing the public mind for their projected capitulation. Thus, these gentlemen who, in all apparent seriousness, are pushing the „theory of a single revolution“ to oppose communism and the Communist Party are out for nothing but their 49 or 51%. How they must have cudgelled their brains! The „theory of a single revolution“ is simply a theory of no revolution at all, and that is the heart of the matter.

But there are other people, apparently with no evil intentions, who are misled by the „theory of a single revolution“ and the fanciful notion of „accomplishing both the political revolution and the social revolution at one stroke“; they do not understand that our revolution is divided into stages, that we can only proceed to the next stage of revolution after accomplishing the first, and that there is no such thing as „accomplishing both at one stroke“. Their approach is like wise very harmful because it confuses the steps to be taken in the revolution and weakens the effort directed towards the current task. It is correct and in accord with the Marxist theory of revolutionary development to say of the two revolutionary stages that the first provides the conditions for the second and that the two must be consecutive, without allowing any intervening stage of bourgeois dictatorship. However, it is a utopian view rejected by true revolutionaries to say that the democratic revolution does not have a specific task and period of its own but can be merged and accomplished simultaneously with another task, that is, the socialist task (which can only be carried out in another period), and this is what they call accomplishing both at one stroke“.


The bourgeois die-hards in their turn come forward and say: „Well you communists have postponed the socialist system to a later stage and have declared: ‚The ‚Three People‘s Principles‘ being what China needs today, our Party is ready to fight for their complete realization.‘11 All right then, fold up your communism for the time being.“ A fearful hullabaloo has recently been raised with this sort qf argument in the form of the „one doctrine“ theory. In essence it is the howl of the die-hards for bourgeois despotism. Out of courtesy, however, we may simply describe it as totally lacking in common sense.

Communism is at once a complete system of proletarian ideology and a new social system. It is different from any other ideology or social system, and is the most complete, progressive, revolutionary and rational system in human history. The ideological and social system of feudalism has a place only in the museum of history. The ideological and social system of capitalism has also become a museum piece in one part of the world (in the Soviet Union), while in other countries it resembles „a dying person who is sinking fast, like the Sun setting beyond the western hills“, and will soon be relegated to the museum. The communist ideological and social system alone is full of youth and vitality, sweeping the world with the momentum of an avalanche and the force of a thunderbolt. The introduction of scientific communism into China has opened new vistas for people and has changed the face of the Chinese revolution. Without communism to guide it, China‘s democratic revolution cannot possibly succeed, let alone move on to the next stage. This is the reason why the bourgeois die-hards are so loudly demanding that communism be „folded up“. But it must not be „folded up“, for once communism is „folded up“, China will be doomed. The whole world today depends on communism for its salvation, and China is no exception.

Everybody knows that the Communist Party has an immediate and a future programme, a minimum and a maximum programme, with regard to the social system it advocates. For the present period, new democracy, and for the future, socialism; these are two parts of an organic whole, guided by one and the same communist ideology. Is it not, therefore, in the highest degree absurd to clamour for communism to be „folded up“ on the ground that the Communist Party‘s minimum programme is in basic agreement with the political tenets of the „Three People‘s Principles“? It is precisely because of this basic agreement between the two that we communists find it possible to recognize „the ‚Three People‘s Principles‘ as the political basis for the anti-Japanese united front“ and to acknowledge that „the ‚Three People‘s Principles‘ being what China needs today, our Party is ready to fight for their complete realization“; otherwise no such possibility would exist. Here we have a united front between communism and the „Three People‘s Principles“ in the stage of the democratic revolution, the kind of united front Dr. Sun Yat-sen had in mind when he said: „Communism is the good friend of the ‚Three People‘s Principles‘.“12 To reject communism is in fact to reject the united front. The die-hards have concocted absurd arguments for the rejection of communism just because they want to reject the united front and practise their one-party doctrine.

Moreover, the „one doctrine“ theory is an absurdity. So long as classes exist, there will be as many doctrines as there are classes, and even various groups in the same class may have their different doctrines. Since the feudal class has a feudal doctrine, the bourgeoisie a capitalist doctrine, the buddhists buddhism, the christians christianity and the peasants polytheism, and since in recent years some people have also advocated kemalism, fascism, vitalism13, the „doctrine of distribution according to labour“14, and what not, why then cannot the proletariat have its communism? Since there are countless “isms”, why should the cry of “Fold it up!” be raised at the sight of communism alone? Frankly, „folding it up“ will not work. Let us rather have a contest. If communism is beaten, we communists will admit defeat in good grace. But if not, then let all that stuff about „one doctrine“, which violates the „Principle of Democracy“, be „folded up“ as soon as possible.

To avoid misunderstanding and for the edification of the die hards, it is necessary to show clearly where the „Three People‘s Principles“ and communism do coincide and where they do not.

Comparison of the two reveals both similarities and differences.

First for the similarities. They are to be found in the basic political programme of both doctrines during the stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in China. The three political tenets of the revolutionary „Three People‘s Principles“ of Nationalism, Democracy and the People‘s Livelihood as reinterpreted by Dr. Sun Yat-sen in 1924 are basically similar to the communist political programme for the stage of the democratic revolution in China. Because of these similarities and because of the carqing out of the „Three People‘s Principles“, the united front of the two doctrines and the two parties came into existence. It is wrong to ignore this aspect.

Next for the differences:

  • There is a difference in part of the programme for the stage of the democratic revolution. The communist programme for the whole course of the democratic revolution includes full rights for the people, the eight-hour working day and a thorough agrarian revolution, whereas the „Three People‘s Principles“ do not. Unless these points are added to the „Three People‘s Principles“ and there is the readiness to carry them out, the two democratic programmes are only basically the same and cannot be described as altogether the same.
  • Another difference is that one includes the stage of the socialist revolution, and the other does not. Communism envisages the stage of the socialist revolution beyond the stage of the democratic revolution, and hence, beyond its minimum programme it has a maximum programme, that is, the programme for the attainment of socialism and communism. The „Three People‘s Principles“ which envisage only the stage of the democratic revolution and not the stage of the socialist revolution have only a minimum programme and not a maximum programme, that is, they have no programme for the establishment of socialism and communism.
  • There is the difference in world outlook. The world outlook of communism is dialectical and historical materialism, while the „Three People‘s Principles“ explain history in terms of the people‘s livelihood, which in essence is a dualist or idealist outlook; the two world outlooks are opposed to each other.
  • There is the difference in revolutionary thoroughness. With communists, theory and practice go together, that is, communists possess revolutionary thoroughness. With the followers of the „Three People‘s Principles“, except for those completely loyal to the revolution and to truth, theory and practice do not go together and their deeds contradict their words, that is, they lack revolutionary thoroughness. The above are the differences between the two. They distinguish communists from the followers of the „Three People‘s Principles“. It is undoubtedly very wrong to ignore this distinction and see only the aspect of unity and not of contradiction.

Once all this is understood, it is easy to see what the bourgeois die-hards have in mind when they demand that communism be „folded up“. If it does not mean bourgeois despotism, then there is no sense to it at all.


The bourgeois die-hards have no understanding whatsoever of historical change; their knowledge is so poor that it is practically non existent. They do not know the difference either between communism and the „Three People‘s Principles“ or between the new „Three People‘s Principles“ and the old.

We communists recognize „the ‚Three People‘s Principles‘ as the political basis for the Anti-Japanese National United Front“, we acknowledge that „the ‚Three People‘s Principles‘ being what China needs today, our Party is ready to fight for their complete realization“, and we admit the basic agreement between the communist minimum programme and the political tenets of the „Three People‘s Principles“. But which kind of „Three People‘s Principles“? The „Three People‘s Principles“ as reinterpreted by Dr. Sun Yat-sen in the Manifesto of the 1st National Congress of the Kuomintang, and no other. I wish the die-hard gentlemen would spare a moment from the work of „restricting communism“, „corroding communism“ and „combating communism“, in which the are so gleefully engaged, to glance through this manifesto. In the manifesto Dr. Sun Yat-sen said: „Here is the true interpretation of the Kuomintang‘s ‚Three People‘s Principles‘.“ Hence these are the only genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ and all others are spurious. The only „true interpretation“ of the „Three People‘s Principles“ is the one contained in the Manifesto of the 1st National Congress of the Kuomintang, and all other interpretations are false. Presumably this is no communist fabrication, for many Kuomintang militants and I myself personally witnessed the adoption of the manifesto.

The manifesto marks off the two epochs in the history of the „Three People‘s Principles“. Before it, they belonged to the old category; they were the „Three People‘s Principles“ of the old bourgeois-democratic revolution in a semi-colony, the „Three People‘s Principles“ of old democracy, the old „Three People‘s Principles“.

After it, they came within the new category; the became the „Three People‘s Principles“ of the new bourgeois-democratic revolution in a semi-colony, the „Three People‘s Principles“ of new democracy, the new „Three People‘s Principles“. These and these alone are the revolutionary „Three People‘s Principles“ of the new period.

The revolutionary „Three People‘s Principles“ of the new period, the new or genuine „Three People‘s Principles“, embody the „Three Great Policies“ of alliance with Russia, cooperation with the Communist Party and assistance to the peasants and workers. Without each and every one of these Three Great Policies, the „Three People‘s Principles“ become either false or incomplete in the new period.

In the first place, the revolutionary, new or genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ must include alliance with Russia. As things are today, it is perfectly clear that unless there is the policy of alliance with Russia, with the land of socialism, there will inevitably be a policy of alliance with imperialism, with the imperialist powers. Is this not exactly what happened after 1927? Once the conflict between the socialist Soviet Union and the imperialist powers grows sharper, China will have to take its position on one side or the other. This is an inevitable trend. Is it possible to avoid leaning to either side? No, that is an illusion. The whole world will be swept into one or the other of these two fronts, and „neutrality“ will then be merely a deceptive term. Especially is this true of China which, fighting an imperialist power that has penetrated deep into her territory, cannot conceive of ultimate victory without the assistance of the Soviet Union. If alliance with Russia is sacrificed for the sake of alliance with imperialism, the word „revolutionary“ will have to be expunged from the „Three People‘s Principles“, which will then become reactionary. In the last analysis, there can be no „neutral“ „Three People‘s Principles“; they can only be either revolutionary or counter-revolutionary. Would it not be more heroic to „fight against attacks from both sides“15 as Wang Ching-wei once remarked, and to have the kind of „Three People‘s Principles“ that serves this “fight”? Unfortunately, even its inventor Wang Ching-wei himself has abandoned (or „folded up“) this kind of „Three People‘s Principles“, for he has adopted the „Three People‘s Principles“ of alliance with imperialism. If it is argued that there is a difference between Eastern and Western imperialism, and that, unlike Wang Ching-wei who has allied himself with Eastern imperialism, one should ally oneself with some of the Western imperialists to march eastward and attack, then would not such conduct be quite revolutionary? However, whether you like it or not, the Western imperialists are determined to oppose the Soviet Union and communism, and if you ally yourself with them, they will ask you to march northward and attack, and your revolution will come to nothing. All these circumstances make it essential for the revolutionary, new and genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ to include alliance with Russia, and under no circumstances alliance with imperialism against Russia.

In the second place, the revolutionary, new and genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ must include cooperation with the Communist Party. Either you cooperate with the Communist Party or you oppose it. Opposition to communism is the policy of the Japanese imperialists and Wang Ching-wei, and if that is what you want, very well, they will invite you to join their Anti-Communist Company. But wouldn‘t that look suspiciously like turning traitor? You may say: „I am not following Japan, but some other country.“ That is just ridiculous. No matter whom you follow, the moment you oppose the Communist Party you become a traitor, because you can no longer resist Japan. If you say: „I am going to oppose the Communist Party independently“, that is arrant nonsense. How can the „heroes“ in a colony or semi-colony tackle a counter-revolutionary job of this magnitude without depending on the strength of imperialism? For ten long years, virtually all the imperialist forces in the world were enlisted against the Communist Party, but in vain. How can you suddenly oppose it „independently“?

Some people outside the Border Region, we are told, are now saying: „Opposing the Communist Party is good, but you can never succeed in it.“ This remark, if it is not simply hearsay, is only half wrong, for what „good“ is there in opposing the Communist Party? But the other half is true, you certainly can „never succeed in it“. Basically, the reason lies not with the communists but with the common people, who like the Communist Party and do not like „opposing“ it. If you oppose the Communist Party at a juncture when our national enemy is penetrating deep into our territory, the people will be after your hide; they will certainly show you no mercy. This much is certain, whoever wants to oppose the Communist Party must be prepared to be ground to dust. If you are not keen on being ground to dust, you had certainly better drop this opposition. This is our sincere advice to all the anti-communist „heroes“. Thus it is as clear as can be that the „Three People‘s Principles“ of today must include cooperation with the Communist Party, or otherwise those Principles will perish. It is a question of life and death for the „Three People‘s Principles“. Cooperating with the Communist Party, they will survive; opposing the Communist Party, they will perish. Can anyone prove the contrary?

In the third place, the revolutionary, new and genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ must include the policy of assisting the peasants and workers. Rejection of this policy, failure whole-heartedly to assist the peasants and workers or failure to carry out the behest in Dr. Sun Yat-sen‘s Testament to „arouse the masses of the people“, amounts to preparing the way for the defeat of the revolution, and one‘s own defeat into the bargain. Stalin has said that „in essence, the national question is a peasant question“.16 This means that the Chinese revolu tion is essentially a peasant revolution and that the resistance to Japan now going on is essentially peasant resistance. Essentially, the politics of new democracy means giving the peasants their rights. The new and genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ are essentially the principles of a peasant revolution. Essentially, mass culture means raising the cultural level of the peasants. The anti-Japanese war is essentially a peasant war. We are now living in a time when the „principle of going up into the hills“17 applies; meetings, work, classes, newspaper publication, the writing of books, theatrical performances — everything is done up in the hills, and all essentially for the sake of the peasants. And essentially it is the peasants who provide everything that sustains the resistance to Japan and keeps us going. By „essentially“ we mean basically, not ignoring the other sections of the people, as Stalin himself has explained. As every schoolchild knows, 80% of China‘s population are peasants. So the peasant problem becomes the basic problem of the Chinese revolution and the strength of the peasants is the main strength of the Chinese revolution. In the Chinese population the workers rank second to the peasants in number. There are several million industrial workers in China and several tens of millions of handicraft workers and agricultural labourers. China cannot live without her workers in the various industries, because they are the producers in the industrial sector of the economy. And the revolution cannot succeed without the modern industrial working class, because it is the leader of the Chinese revolution and is the most revolutionary class. In these circumstances, the revolutionary, new and genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ must include the policy of assisting the peasants and workers. Any other kind of „Three People‘s Principles“ which lack this policy, do not give the peasants and workers whole-hearted assistance or do not carry out the behest to „arouse the masses of the people“, will certainly perish.

Thus it is clear that there is no future for any „Three People‘s Principles“ which depart from the „Three Great Policies“ of alliance with Russia, cooperation with the Communist Party and assistance to the peasants and workers. Every conscientious follower of the „Three People‘s Principles“ must seriously consider this point.

The „Three People‘s Principles“ comprising the Three Great Policies — in other words, the revolutionary, new and genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ — are the „Three People‘s Principles“ of new democracy, a development of the old „Three People‘s Principles“, a great contribution of Dr. Sun Yat-sen‘s and a product of the era in which the Chinese revolution has become part of the world socialist revolution. It is only these „Three People‘s Principles“ which the Communist Party of China regards as „being what China needs today“ and for whose „complete realization“ it declares itself pledged „to fight“. These are the only „Three People‘s Principles“ which are in basic agreement with the Communist Party‘s political programme for the stage of democratic revolution, namely, with its minimum programme.

As for the old „Three People‘s Principles“, they were a product of the old period of the Chinese revolution. Russia was then an imperialist power, and naturally there could be no policy of alliance with her; there was then no Communist Party in existence in our country, and naturally there could be no policy of cooperation with it; the movement of the workers and peasants had not yet revealed its full political significance and aroused people‘s attention, and naturally there could be no policy of alliance with them. Hence the „Three People‘s Principles“ of the period before the reorganization of the Kuomintang in 1924 belonged to the old category, and they became obsolete. The Kuomintang could not have gone forward unless it had developed them into the new „Three People‘s Principles“. Dr. Sun Yat-sen in his wisdom saw this point, secured the help of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China and reinterpreted the „Three People‘s Principles“ so as to endow them with new characteristics suited to the times; as a result, a united front was formed between the „Three People‘s Principles“ and communism, Kuomintang-Communist Party cooperation was established for the first time, the sympathy of the people of the whole country was won, and the revolution of 1924-27: was launched.

The old „Three People‘s Principles“ were revolutionary in the old period and reflected its historical features. But if the old stuff is repeated in the new period after the new „Three People‘s Principles“ have been established, or alliance with Russia is opposed after the socialist state has been established, or cooperation with the Communist Party is opposed after the Communist Party has come into existence, or the policy of assisting the peasants and workers is opposed after they have awakened and demonstrated their political strength, then that is reactionary and shows ignorance of the times. The period of reaction after 1927 was the result of such ignorance. The old proverb says: „Whosoever understands the signs of the times is a great person.“ I hope the followers of the „Three People‘s Principles“ today will bear this in mind.

Were the „Three People‘s Principles“ to fall within the old category then they would have nothing basically in common with the communist minimum programme, because they would belong to the past and be obsolete. Any sort of „Three People‘s Principles“ that oppose Russia, the Communist Party or the peasants and workers are definitely reactionary; they not only have absolutely nothing in common with the communist minimum programme but are the enemy of communism, and there is no common ground at all. This, too, the followers of the „Three People‘s Principles“ should carefully consider.

In any case, people with a conscience will never forsake the new „Three People‘s Principles“ until the task of opposing imperialism and feudalism is basically accomplished. The only ones who do are people like Wang Ching-wei. No matter how energetically they push their spurious „Three People‘s Principles“ which oppose Russia, the Communist Party and the peasants and workers, there will surely be no lack of people with a conscience and sense of justice who will continue to support Sun Yat-sen‘s genuine „Three People‘s Principles“. Many followers of the genuine „Three People‘s Principles“ continued the struggle for the Chinese revolution even after the reaction of 1927, and their numbers will undoubtedly swell to tens upon tens of thousands now that the national enemy has penetrated deep into our territory. We Communists will always persevere in long-term cooperation with all the true followers of the „Three People‘s Principles“ and, while rejecting the traitors and the sworn enemies of communism, will never forsake any of our friends.


In the foregoing we have explained the historical characteristics of Chinese politics in the new period and the question of the new democratic republic. We can now proceed to the question of culture.

A given culture is the ideological reflection of the politics and economics of a given society. There is in China an imperialist culture which is a reflection of imperialist rule, or partial rule, in the political and economic fields. This culture is fostered not only by the cultural organizations run directly by the imperialists in China but by a number of Chinese who have lost all sense of shame. Into this category falls all culture embodying a slave ideology. China also has a semi-feudal culture which reflects its semi-feudal politics and economy, and whose exponents include all those who advocate the worship of Confucius, the study of the Confucian canon, the old ethical code and the old ideas in opposition to the new culture and new ideas. Imperialist culture and semi-feudal culture are devoted brothers and have formed a reactionary cultural alliance against China‘s new culture. This kind of reactionary culture serves the imperialists and the feudal class and must be swept away. Unless it is swept away, no new culture of any kind can be built up. There is no construction without destruction, no flowing without damming and no motion with out rest; the two are locked in a life-and-death struggle. As for the new culture, it is the ideological reflection of the new politics and the new economy which it sets out to serve.

As we have already stated in Section 3, Chinese society has gradually changed in character since the emergence of a capitalist economy in China; it is no longer an entirely feudal but a semi-feudal society, although the feudal economy still predominates. Compared with the feudal economy, this capitalist economy is a new one. The political forces of the bourgeoisie, the small bourgeoisie and the proletariat are the new political forces which have emerged and grown simultaneously with this new capitalist economy. And the new culture reflects these new economic and political forces in the field of ideology and serves them. Without the capitalist economy, without the bourgeoisie, the small bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and without the political forces of these classes, the new ideology or new culture could not have emerged.

These new political, economic and cultural forces are all revolutionary forces which are opposed to the old politics, the old economy and the old culture. The old is composed of two parts, one being China‘s own semi-feudal politics, economy and culture, and the other the politics, economy and culture of imperialism, with the latter heading the alliance. Both are bad and should be completely destroyed. The struggle between the new and the old in Chinese society is a struggle between the new forces of the people (the various revolutionary classes) and the old forces of imperialism and the feudal class. It is a struggle between revolution and counter-revolution. This struggle has lasted a full 100 years if dated from the Opium War, and nearly 30 years if dated from the Revolution of 1911.

But as already indicated, revolutions too can be classified into old and new, and what is new in one historical period becomes old in another. The century of China‘s bourgeois-democratic revolution can be divided into two main stages, a first stage of eighty years and a second of twenty years. Each has its basic historical characteristics: China‘s bourgeois-democratic revolution in the first 80 years belongs to the old category, while in the last 20 years, owing to the change in the international and domestic political situation, it belongs to the new category. Old democracy is the characteristic of the first 80 years. new democracy is the characteristic of the last 20. This distinction holds good in culture as well as in politics.

How does it manifest itself in the field of culture? We shall explain this next.


On the cultural or ideological front, the two periods preceding and following the May 4th Movement form two distinct historical periods.

Before the May 4th Movement, the struggle on China‘s cultural front was one between the new culture of the bourgeoisie and the old culture of the feudal class. The struggles between the modern school system and the imperial examination system18, between the new learning and the old learning, and between Western learning and Chinese learning, were all of this nature. The so-called modern schools or new learning or Western learning of that time concentrated mainly (we say mainly, because in part pernicious vestiges of Chinese feudalism still remained) on the natural sciences and bourgeois social and political theories, which were needed by the representatives of the bourgeoisie. At the time, the ideology of the new learning played a revolutionary role in fighting the Chinese feudal ideology, and it served the bourgeois-democratic revolution of the old period. However, because the Chinese bourgeoisie lacked strength and the world had already entered the era of imperialism, this bourgeois ideology was only able to last out a few rounds and was beaten back by the reactionary alliance of the enslaving ideology of foreign imperialism and the „back to the ancients“ ideology of Chinese feudalism; as soon as this reactionary ideological alliance started a minor counter-offensive, the so-called new learning lowered its banners, muffled its drums and beat a retreat, retaining its outer form but losing its soul. The old bourgeois-democratic culture became enervated and decayed in the era of imperialism, and its failure was inevitable.

But since the May 4th Movement things have been different. A brand-new cultural force came into being in China, that is, the communist culture and ideology guided by the Chinese Communists, or the communist world outlook and theory of social revolution. The May 4th Movement occurred in 1919, and in 1921 came the founding of the Communist Party of China and the real beginning of China‘s labour movement — all in the wake of the 1st World War and the October Revolution, that is, at a time when the national problem and the colonial revolutionary movements of the world underwent a change, and the connection between the Chinese revolution and the world revolution became quite obvious. The new political force of the proletariat and the Communist Party entered the Chinese political arena, and as a result, the new cultural force, in new uniform and with new weapons, mustering all possible allies and deploying its ranks in battle array, launched heroic attacks on imperialist culture and feudal culture. This new force has made great strides in the domain of the social sciences and of the arts and letters, whether of philosophy, economics, political science, military science, history, literature or art (including the theatre, the cinema, music, sculpture and painting). For the last twenty years, wherever this new cultural force has directed its attack, a great revolution has taken place both in ideological content and in form (for example, in the written language). Its influence has been so great and its impact so powerful that it is invincible wherever it goes. The numbers it has rallied behind it have no parallel in Chinese history. Lu Hsun was the greatest and the most courageous standard-bearer of this new cultural force. The chief commander of China‘s cultural revolution, he was not only a great man of letters but a great thinker and revolutionary. Lu Hsun was a person of unyielding integrity, free from all sycophancy or obsequiousness; this quality is invaluable among colonial and semi-colonial peoples. Representing the great majority of the nation, Lu Hsun breached and stormed the enemy citadel; on the cultural front he was the bravest and most correct, the firmest, the most loyal and the most ardent national hero, a hero without parallel in our history. The road he took was the very road of China‘s new national culture.

Prior to the May 4th Movement, China‘s new culture was a culture of the old-democratic kind and part of the capitalist cultural revolution of the world bourgeoisie. Since the May 4th Movement, it has become new-democratic and part of the socialist cultural revolution of the world proletariat.

Prior to the May 4th Movement, China‘s new cultural movement its cultural revolution, was led by the bourgeoisie, which still had a leading role to play. After the May 4th Movement, its culture and ideology became even more backward than its politics and were in capable of playing any leading role; at most, they could serve to a certain extent as an ally during revolutionary periods, while inevitably the responsibility for leading the alliance rested on proletarian culture and ideology. This is an undeniable fact.

The new-democratic culture is the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal culture of the broad masses; today it is the culture of the anti-Japanese united front. This culture can be led only by the culture and ideology of the proletariat, by the ideology of communism, and not by the culture and ideology of any other class. In a word, new-democratic culture is the proletarian-led, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal culture of the broad masses.


A cultural revolution is the ideological reflection of the political and economic revolution and is in their service. In China there is a united front in the cultural as in the political revolution.

The history of the united front in the cultural revolution during the last twenty years can be divided into four periods. The first covers the two years from 1919 to 1921, the second the six years from 1921 to 1927, the third the ten years from 1927 to 1937, and the fourth the three years from 1937 to the present.

The first period extended from the May 4th Movement of 1919 to the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921. The May 4th Movement was its chief landmark.

The May 4th Movement was an anti-imperialist as well as an anti-feudal movement. Its outstanding historical significance is to be seen in a feature which was absent from the Revolution of 1911, namely, its thorough and uncompromising opposition to imperialism as well as to feudalism. The May 4th Movement possessed this quality because capitalism had developed a step further in China and because new hopes had arisen for the liberation of the Chinese nation as China‘s revolutionary intellectuals saw the collapse of three great imperialist powers, Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the weakening of two others, Britain and France, while the Russian proletariat had established a socialist state and the German, Hungarian and Italian proletariat had risen in revolution. The May 4th Movement came into being at the call of the world revolution, of the Russian revolution and of Lenin. It was part of the world proletarian revolution of the time. Although the Communist Party had not yet come into existence, there were already large numbers of intellectuals who approved of the Russian revolution and had the rudiments of communist ideology. In the beginning the May 4th Movement was the revolutionary movement of a united front of three sections of people — communist intellectuals, revolutionary small-bourgeois intellectuals and bourgeois intellectuals (the last forming the right wing of the movement). Its shortcoming was that it was confined to the intellectuals and that the workers and peasants did not join in. But as soon as it developed into the June 3rd Movement19, not only the intellectuals but the mass of the proletariat, the small bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie joined in, and it became a nation-wide revolutionary movement. The cultural revolution ushered in by the May 4th Movement was uncompromising in its opposition to feudal culture; there had never been such a great and thoroughgoing cultural revolution since the dawn of Chinese history. Raising aloft the two great banners of the day: „Down with the old ethics and up with the new!“ and „Down with the old literature and up with the new!“, the cultural revolution had great achievements to its credit. At that time it was not yet possible for this cultural movement to become widely diffused among the workers and peasants. The slogan of „Literature for the common people!“ was advanced, but in fact the „common people“ then could only refer to the small-bourgeois and bourgeois intellectuals in the cities, that is, the urban intelligentsia. Both in ideology and in the matter of cadres, the May 4th Movement paved the way for the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921 and for the May 30th Movement in 1925 and the Northern Expedition. The bourgeois intellectuals, who constituted the Right of the May 4th Movement mostly compromised with the enemy in the second period and went over to the side of reaction.

In the second period, whose landmarks were the founding of the Communist Party of China, the May 30th Movement and the Northern Expedition, the united front of the three classes formed in the May 4th Movement was continued and expanded, the peasantry was drawn into it and a political united front of all these classes, the first instance of Kuomintang-Communist Party cooperation, was established. Dr. Sun Yat-sen was a great man not only because he led the Great Revolution of 1911 (although it was only a democratic revolution of the old period), but also because, „adapting himself to the trends of the world and meeting the needs of the masses“, he had the capacity to ring forward the revolutionary „Three Great Policies“ of alliance with Russia, cooperation with the Communist Party and assistance to the peasants and workers, give new meaning to the „Three People‘s Principles“ and thus institute the new „Three People‘s Principles“ with their Three Great Policies. Previously, the „Three People‘s Principles“ had exerted little influence on the educational and academic world or with the youth, because they had not raised the issues of opposition to imperialism or to the feudal social system and feudal culture and ideology. They were the old „Three People‘s Principles“ which people regarded as the time-serving banner of a group of men bent on seizing power, in other words, on securing official positions, a banner used purely for political manoeuvring. Then came the new „Three People‘s Principles“ with their Three Great Policies. The cooperation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party and the joint efforts of the revolutionary militants of the two parties spread the new „Three People‘s Principles“ all over China, extending to a section of the educational and academic world and the mass of student youth. This was entirely due to the fact that the original „Three People‘s Principles“ had developed into the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and new-democratic „Three People‘s Principles“ with their Three Great Policies. Without this development it would have been impossible to disseminate the ideas of the „Three People‘s Principles“.

During this period, the revolutionary „Three People‘s Principles“ became the political basis of the united front of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party and of all the revolutionary classes, and since „communism is the good friend of the ‚Three People‘s Principles‘“, a united front was formed between the two of them. In terms of social classes, it was a united front of the proletariat, the peasantry, the urban small bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie. Using the communist Weekly Guide, the Kuomintang‘s Republican Daily News of Shanghai and other newspapers in various localities as their bases of operations, the two parties jointly advocated anti-imperialism, jointly combated feudal education based upon the worship of Confucius and upon the study of the Confucian canon and jointly opposed feudal literature and the classical language and promoted the new literature and the vernacular style of writing with an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal content. During the wars in Kwangtung and during the Northern Expedition, they reformed China‘s armed forces by the inculcation of anti-imperialist and anti-feudal ideas. The slogans: „Down with the corrupt officials!“ and „Down with the local tyrants and evil gentry!“, were raised among the peasant millions, and great peasant revolutionary struggles were aroused. Thanks to all this and to the assistance of the Soviet Union, the Northern Expedition was victorious. But no sooner did the big bourgeoisie climb to power than it put an end to this revolution, thus creating an entirely new political situation.

The third period was the new revolutionary period of 1927-37. As a change had taken place within the revolutionary camp towards the end of the second period, with the big bourgeoisie going over to the counter-revolutionary camp of the imperialist and feudal forces and the national bourgeoisie trailing after it, only three of the four classes formerly within the revolutionary camp remained, that is, the proletariat, the peasantry and the other sections of the small bourgeoisie (including the revolutionary intellectuals), and consequently the Chinese revolution inevitably entered a new period in which the Communist Party of China alone gave directorship to the masses. This period was one of counter-revolutionary campaigns of „encirclement and suppression“, on the one hand, and of the deepening of the revolution, on the other. There were two kinds of counter-revolutionary campaigns of „encirclement and suppression“, the military and the cultural. The deepening of the revolution was of two kinds; both the agrarian and the cultural revolutions were deepened. At the instigation of the imperialists, the counter-revolutionary forces of the whole country and of the whole world were mobilized for both kinds of campaigns of „encirclement and suppression“, which lasted no less than ten years and were unparalleled in their ruthlessness; hundreds of thousands of communists and young students were slaughtered and millions of workers and peasants suffered cruel persecution. The people responsible for all this apparently had no doubt that communism and the Communist Party could be „exterminated once and for all“. However, the outcome was different; both kinds of „encirclement and suppression“ campaigns failed miserably. The military campaign resulted in the northern march of the Red Army to resist the Japanese, and the cultural campaign resulted in the outbreak of the December 9th Movement of the revolutionary youth in 1935. And the common result of both was the awakening of the people of the whole country. These were three positive results. The most amazing thing of all was that the Kuomintang‘s cultural „encirclement and suppression“ campaign failed completey in the Kuomintang areas as well, although the Communist Party was in an utterly defenceless position in all the cultural and educational institutions there. Why did this happen? Does it not give food for prolonged and deep thought? It was in the very midst of such campaigns of „encirclement and suppression“ that Lu Hsun, who believed in communism, became the giant of China‘s cultural revolution.

The negative result of the counter-revolutionary campaigns of „encirclement and suppression“ was the invasion of our country by Japanese imperialism. This is the chief reason why to this very day the people of the whole country still bitterly detest those ten years of anti-communism.

In the struggles of this period, the revolutionary side firmly upheld the people‘s anti-imperialist and anti-feudal new democracy and their new „Three People‘s Principles“, while the counter-revolutionary side, under the direction of imperialism, imposed the despotic regime of the coalition of the landlord class and the big bourgeoisie. That despotic regime butchered Dr. Sun Yat-sen‘s „Three Great Policies“ and his new „Three People‘s Principles“ both politically and culturally, with catastrophic consequences to the Chinese nation.

The fourth period is that of the present anti-Japanese war. Pursuing its zigzag course, the Chinese revolution has again arrived at a united front of the four classes; but the scope of the united front is now much broader because its upper stratum includes many members of the ruling classes, its middle stratum includes the national bourgeoisie and the small bourgeoisie, and its lower stratum includes the entire proletariat, so that the various classes and strata of the nation have become members of the alliance resolutely resisting Japanese imperialism. The first stage of this period lasted until the fall of Wuhan. During that stage, there was a lively atmosphere in the country in every field; politically there was a trend towards democracy and culturally there was fairly widespread activity. With the fall of Wuhan the second stage began, during which the political situation has undergone many changes, with one section of the big bourgeoisie capitulating to the enemy and another desiring an early end to the War of Resistance. In the cultural sphere, this situation has been reflected in the reactionary activities of Yeh Ching20, Chang Chun-mai and others, and in the suppression of freedom of speech and of the press.

To overcome this crisis, a firm struggle is necessary against all ideas opposed to resistance, unity and progress, and unless these reactionary ideas are crushed, there will be no hope of victory. How will this struggle turn out? This is the big question in the minds of the people of the whole country. Judging by the domestic and international situation, the Chinese people are bound to win, however numerous the obstacles on the path of resistance. The progress achieved during the twenty years since the May 4th Movement exceeds not only that of the preceding eighty years but virtually surpasses that achieved in the thousands of years of Chinese history. Can we not visualize what further progress China will make in another 20 years? The unbridled violence of all the forces of darkness, whether domestic or foreign, has brought disaster to our nation; but this very violence indicates that while the forces of darkness still have some strength left, they are already in their death throes, and that the people are gradually approaching victory. This is true of China, of the whole East and of the entire world.


Everything new comes from the forge of hard and bitter struggle This is also true of the new culture which has followed a zigzag course in the past twenty years, during which both the good and the bad were tested and proved in struggle.

The bourgeois die-hards are as hopelessly wrong on the question of culture as on that of political power. They neither understand the historical characteristics of this new period in China, nor recognize the new-democratic culture of the masses. Their starting point is bourgeois despotism, which in culture becomes the cultural despotism of the bourgeoisie. It seems that a section (and I refer only to a section) of educated people from the so-called European-American school21 who in fact supported the Kuomintang government‘s „communist suppression“ campaign on the cultural front in the past are now supporting its policy of „restricting“ and „corroding“ the Communist Party. They do not want the workers and the peasants to hold up their heads politically or culturally. This bourgeois die-hard road of cultural despotism leads nowhere; as in the case of political despotism, the domestic and international pre-conditions are lacking. Therefore this cultural despotism, too, had better be „folded up“.

So far as the orientation of our national culture is concerned, communist ideology plays the guiding role, and we should work hard both to disseminate socialism and communism throughout the working class and to educate the peasantry and other sections of the people in socialism properly and step by step. However, our national culture as a whole is not yet socialist. Because of the leadership of the proletariat, the politics, the economy and the culture of new democracy all contain an element of socialism, and by no means a mere casual element but one with a decisive role. However, taken as a whole, the political, economic and cultural situation so far is new-democratic and not socialist. For the Chinese revolution in its present stage is not yet a socialist revolution for the overthrow of capitalism but a bourgeois-democratic revolution, its central task being mainly that of combating foreign imperialism and domestic feudalism. In the sphere of national culture, it is wrong to assume that the existing national culture is, or should be, socialist in its entirety. That would amount to confusing the dissemination of communist ideology with the carrying out of an immediate programme of action, and to confusing the application of the communist position and method in investigating problems, undertaking research, handling work and training cadres with the general policy for national education and national culture in the democratic stage of the Chinese revolution. A national culture with a socialist content will necessarily be the reflection of a socialist politics and a socialist economy. There are socialist elements in our politics and our economy, and hence these socialist elements are reflected in our national culture; but taking our society as a whole, we do not have a socialist politics and a socialist economy yet, so that there cannot be a wholly socialist national culture. Since the present Chinese revolution is part of the proletarian-socialist world revolution, the new culture of China today is part of the proletarian-socialist new world culture and is its great ally. While this part contains vital elements of socialist culture, the national culture as a whole joins the stream of the world proletarian-socialist new culture not entirely as a socialist culture, but as the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal new-democratic culture of the broad masses. And since the Chinese revolution today cannot do without proletarian leadership, China‘s new culture cannot do without the leadership of proletarian culture and ideology, of communist ideology. At the present stage, however, this kind of leadership means leading the masses of the people in an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal political and cultural revolution, and therefore, taken as a whole, the content of China‘s new national culture is still not socialist but new-democratic.

Beyond all doubt, now is the time to spread communist ideas more widely and put more energy into the study of marxism-leninism, or otherwise we shall not only be unable to lead the Chinese revolution forward to the future stage of socialism, but shall also be unable to guide the present democratic revolution to victory. However, we must keep the spreading of communist ideas and propaganda about the communist social system distinct from the practical application of the new-democratic programme of action; we must also keep the communist theory and method of investigating problems, undertaking research, handling work and training cadres distinct from the new democratic line for national culture as a whole. It is undoubtedly inappropriate to mix the two up.

It can thus be seen that the content of China‘s new national culture at the present stage is neither the cultural despotism of the bourgeoisie nor the socialism of the proletariat, but the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal new democracy of the masses, under the leadership of proletarian-socialist culture and ideology.


New-democratic culture is national. It opposes imperialist op pression and upholds the dignity and independence of the Chinese nation. It belongs to our own nation and bears our own national characteristics. It links up with the socialist and new-democratic cultures of all other nations and they are related in such a way that they can absorb something from each other and help each other to develop, together forming a new world culture; but as a revolutionary national culture it can never link up with any reactionary imperialist culture of whatever nation. To nourish her own culture China needs to assimilate a good deal of foreign progressive culture, not enough of which was done in the past. We should assimilate whatever is useful to us today not only from the present-day socialist and new-democratic cultures but also from the earlier cultures of other nations, for example, from the culture of the various capitalist countries in the Age of Enlightenment. However, we should not gulp any of this foreign material down uncritically, but must treat it as we do our food — first chewing it, then submitting it to the working of the stomach and intestines with their juices and secretions, and separating it into nutriment to be absorbed and waste matter to be discarded — before it can nourish us. To advocate „wholesale westernization“22 is wrong. China has suffered a great deal from the mechanical absorption of foreign material. Similarly, in applying marxism to China, Chinese communists must fully and properly integrate the universal truth of marxism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution, or in other words, the universal truth of marxism must be combined with specific national characteristics and acquire a definite national form if it is to be useful, and in no circumstances can it be applied subjectively as a mere formula. Marxists who make a fetish of formulas are simply playing the fool with marxism and the Chinese revolution, and there is no room for them in the ranks of the Chinese revolution. Chinese culture should have its own form, its own national form. National in form and new-democratic in content — such is our new culture today.

New-democratic culture is scientific. Opposed as it is to all feudal and superstitious ideas, it stands for seeking truth from facts, for objective truth and for the unity of theory and practice. On this point, the possibility exists of a united front against imperialism, feudalism and superstition between the scientific thought of the Chinese proletariat and those Chinese bourgeois materialists and natural scientists who are progressive, but in no case is there a possibility of a united front with any reactionary idealism. In the field of political action communists may form an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal united front with some idealists and even religious people, but we can never approve of their idealism or religious doctrines. A splendid old culture was created during the long period of Chinese feudal society. To study the development of this old culture, to reject its feudal dross and assimilate its democratic essence is a necessary condition for developing our new national culture and increasing our national self-confidence, but we should never swallow anything and everything uncritically. It is imperative to separate the fine old culture of the people which had a more or less democratic and revolutionary character from all the decadence of the old feudal ruling class. China‘s present new politics and new economy have developed out of its old politics and old economy, and its present new culture, too, has developed out of its old culture; therefore, we must respect our own history and must not lop it off. However, respect for history means giving it its proper place as a science, respecting its dialectical development, and not eulogizing the past at the expense of the present or praising every drop of feudal poison. As far as the masses and the young students are concerned, the essential thing is to guide them to look forward and not backward.

New-democratic culture belongs to the broad masses and is therefore democratic. It should serve the toiling masses of workers and peasants who make up more than 90% of the nation‘s population and should gradually become their very own. There is a difference of degree, as well as a close link, between the knowledge imparted to the revolutionary cadres and the knowledge imparted to the revolutionary masses, between the raising of cultural standards and popularization. Revolutionary culture is a powerful revolutionary weapon for the broad masses of the people. It prepares the ground ideologically before the revolution comes and is an important, indeed essential, fighting front in the general revolutionary front during the revolution. People engaged in revolutionary cultural work are the commanders at various levels on this cultural front. „Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement“23; one can thus see how important the cultural movement is for the practical revolutionary movement. Both the cultural and practical movements must be of the masses. Therefore all progressive cultural workers in the antilapanese war must have their own cultural battalions, that is the broad masses. A revolutionary cultural worker who is not close to the people is a commander without an army, whose fire-power cannot bring the enemy down. To attain this objective, written Chinese must be reformed, given the requisite conditions, and our spoken language brought closer to that of the people, for the people, it must be stressed, are the inexhaustible source of our revolutionary culture.

A national, scientific and mass culture — such is the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal culture of the people, the culture of new democracy, the new culture of the Chinese nation.

Combine the politics, the economy and the culture of new democracy, and you have the new-democratic republic, the Republic of China both in name and in reality, the new China we want to create.




1Chinese Culture was a magazine founded in January 1940 in Yenan; the present article appeared in the first number.

2See V. I. Lenin: „Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Present Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin“, 25.01.1921.

3Karl Marx: Preface to „A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy“, January 1859.

4Karl Marx: „Theses on Feuerbach“, 1845.

5J. V. Stalin: „The October Revolution and the National Question“, 06.-19.11.1918.

6J. V. Stalin: „The National Question Once Again“, 30.06.1925.

7V. I. Lenin: „Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism“, January-June 1916.

8These anti-Soviet campaigns were instigated by the Kuomintang government following Chiang Kai-shek‘s betrayal of the revolution. On December 13, 1927, the Kuomintang murdered the Soviet vice-consul in Kwangchow and on the next day its government in Nanking issued a decree breaking off relations with Russia, with drawing official recognition from Soviet consuls in the provinces and ordering Soviet commercial establishments to cease activity. In August 1929 Chiang Kai-shek, under the instigation of the imperialists, organized acts of provocation in the North-East against the Soviet Union, which resulted in armed clashes.

9After the 1st World War the British imperialists instigated their vassal Greece to commit aggression against Turkey, but the Turkish people, with the help of the Soviet Union, defeated the Greek troops in 1922. In 1923, Kemal was elected President of Turkey. Stalin said:

A kemalist revolution is a revolution of the top stratum, a revolution of the national merchant bourgeoisie, arising in a struggle against the foreign imperialists, and whose subsequent development is essentially directed against the peasants and workers, against the very possibility of an agrarian revolution.“ („Talk with Students of the Sun Yat-sen University“.)

10The „metaphysics-mongers“ were Chang Chun-mai and his group. After the May 4th Movement, Chang openly opposed science and advocated metaphysics, or what he called „spiritual culture“, and thus came to be known as a „metaphysics-monger“. In order to support Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese aggressors, he published an „Open Letter to Mr. Mao Tse-tung“ in December 1938 at Chiang Kai-shek‘s bidding, wildly demanding the abolition of the 8th Route Army, the New 4th Army and the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region.

11See the manifesto of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the establishment of Kuomintang-Communist Party cooperation, issued in September 1937.

12See Dr. Sun Yat-sen: „Lectures on the ‚Principle of People‘s Livelihood‘“, 1924, Lecture 2.

13Vitalism was an exposition of Kuomintang fascism, a hotch-potch ghost written by a number of reactionary hacks for Chen Li-fu, one of the notorious chiefs of Chiang Kai-shek‘s secret service.

14The „doctrine of distribution according to labour“ was a high-sounding slogan shamelessly put forward by Yen Hsi-shan, warlord and representative of the big landlords and big compradors in Shansi Provioce.

15„Fight Against Attacks from Both Sides“ was the title of an article written by Wang Ching-wei after his betrayal of the revolution in 1927.

16J. V. Stalin: „Concerning the National Question in Yugoslavia“, a speech delivered in the Yugoslav Commission of the ECCI, March 30th, 1925. Stalin said:

[…] the peasantry constitutes the main army of the national movement […] there is no powerful national movement without the peasant army, nor can there be. That is what is meant when it is said that, in essence, the national question is a peasant question.“

17The „principle of going up into the hills“ was a dogmatist gibe against Chairman Mao Tse-tung for his emphasis on rural revolutionary bases. He makes use of the expression to explain the importance of the role played by the rural revolutionary bases.

18The modern school system was the educational system modelled on that of capitalist countries in Europe and the USA. The imperial examination system was the old examination system in feudal China. Towards the end of the 19th century enlightened Chinese intellectuals urged the abolition of the old competitive examination system and the establishment of modern schools.

19The June 3rd Movement marked a new stage in the patriotic movement of May 4th. On June 3rd, 1919, students in Peking held public meetings and made speeches in defiance of persecution and repression by the army and police. They went on strike and the strike spread to the worken and merchants in Shanghai, Nanking Tientsin, Hangchow, Wuhan and Kiukiang and in the provinces of Shantung and Anhwei. Thus the May 4th Movement grew into a broad mass movement in which the proletariat, the urban small bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie all participated.

20Yeh Ching was a renegade communist who became a hired hack in the Kuomintang secret service.

21The spokesman of the so-called European-American school was the counter-revolutionary Hu Shih.

22Wholesale westernization was the view held by a number of westernized Chinese bourgeois intellectuals who unconditionally praised the outmoded individualist bourgeois culture of the West and advocated the servile imitation of capitalist Europe and the USA.

23V. I. Lenin: „What Is To Be Done?“, End of 1901-February 1902.