Speech at the Moscow Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties

Comrade Mao Zedong's speech at an international meeting of Communist Parties in Moscow.

Proletarians of all countries, unite!

SPEECH AT THE MOSCOW MEETING OF COMMUNIST AND WORKERS‘ PARTIES

Mao Zedong
18.11.1957

Reproduced by
The Red Flag

This speech was delivered by Comrade Mao Zedong at the 1957 Moscow Meeting of 64 Communist and Workers‘ Parties.

SPEECH AT THE MOSCOW MEETING OF COMMUNIST AND WORKERS‘ PARTIES

Comrades,

I will say a few words. Please allow me to remain seated while speaking. I suffered a stroke some years ago, and though my condition has improved these two years, I still find it a little difficult to stand while speaking.

I should like to discuss two questions: the present international situation and our unity.

It is my opinion that the international situation has now reached a new turning point. There are two winds in the world today, the east wind and the west wind. There is a Chinese saying: «Either the east wind prevails over the west wind or the west wind prevails over the east wind.» It is characteristic of the situation today, I believe, that the east wind is prevailing over the west wind. That is to say, the forces of socialism are overwhelmingly superior to forces of imperialism.

The October Revolution, 40 years ago, was a turning-point in the history of humanity. So how come we now have yet another turning-point? Well, we have. For a while, for a year or two, Hitler had the upper hand. At the time, he not only occupied half of Europe but also invaded the Soviet Union, causing it to surrender a large territory. It is clear that he temporarily had the upper hand then. But the battle of Stalingrad was a turning-point, and from then on Hitler went downhill, while the Soviet Union pushed its way with irresistible force all the way to Berlin. Wasn‘t it a turning-point? In my opinion, the battle of Stalingrad was the turning-point of the entire 2nd World War.

Last year, and in the preceding years, the West was very ferocious. They took advantage of some problems within our camp — in particular the Hungarian incident — to discredit us. But though many dark clouds appeared in our skies, the Hungarian counter-revolutionaries were suppressed. During the Suez crisis, the warning issued by the Soviet Union also served to prevent a war of occupation. The aim of the West in trying to discredit us was in my view mainly to give the various Communist Parties «a bad time». In this they did succeed up to a point. For example, that shameless traitor of communism, the American Browder, deserted the party. Other Communist Parties saw people desert them as well, to the delight of the imperialists. I think we should be happy too, since what is so bad about a few traitors pulling out?

This year, 1957, the situation is very different. Our skies are all bright but those of the West are darkened by clouds. We are very optimistic, but how about them? They are in a state of anxiety. After the launching of the two sputniks, they have not been able to go to sleep. Never before have over 60 Communist Parties convened a meeting on this major scale here in Moscow.

Within the Communist Parties, and in particular among the people of our various countries, there are still many who believe that the United States is something extraordinary. They have all that steel, and all those airplanes and cannons! We have less than they do! Innumerable Western newspapers and radio stations, such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, all laud them to the skies and create a false image which has duped a considerable number of people. We must expose this fraud will present ten pieces of evidence as an answer to the following question: are they stronger or are we stronger? Is the east wind prevailing over the west wind, or is the west wind prevailing over the east wind?

Number one: When they fought Hitler, how much steel did Roosevelt and Churchill have? They had about 70,000,000 tons. But even so, they were helpless and unable to bring Hitler to his knees. In the end they had to come up with a solution and so they chose to set off on a journey. They went all the way to Yalta, to ask Stalin for help. How much steel did Stalin have at the time?

Before the war, he had had about 18,000,000 tons, but after losing so much territory, his steel production, so Comrade Khrushchev has told me, was reduced by half and only 9,000,000 tons remained. People with 70,000,000 tons of steel were asking a person with 9,000,000 tons of steel to help them. And what were the conditions? That the territory east of the Elbe river be regarded as the attack sector of the Red Army. This is to say, they reluctantly decided to cede this large territory and face the possibility of it all becoming socialist. This fact is very convincing and demonstrates that material might is not the only thing that counts. People and systems are of primary importance. At Yalta, the fight against Japan was also discussed; once more it was the Americans who were unable to defeat the Japanese and had to ask for communist help. Manchuria and a part of Korea were designated attack sectors of the Red Army, and it was decided that Japan would have to return half of Sakhalin and all of the Kurile Islands. Once more they had to make concessions against their will in order to defeat their own kind — the Japanese imperialists.

Number two: the Chinese revolution. In 1949, when we had trounced the Guomindang, they turned to Truman and cried for help, saying: Dear master, please send some soldiers! Truman said: I cannot send you even a single one! Then the Guomindang said: Is it possible for you to say a few words then, such as «Should the communists cross the Yangzi, the United States will no longer be able to stand by and remain indifferent»? Truman said: There is no way I can say that! The communists are very formidable. So Chiang Kai-shek had no choice but to run off. Now he is in Taiwan.

Number three: the Korean War. When it began, one U.S. division had 800 cannons, while the three divisions of the Chinese People‘s Volunteers possessed only a little over 50 cannons. But as soon as the fighting started, it was like chasing ducks, and in just a few weeks the American troops had been chased hundreds of kilometres, from the Yalu river to the south of the 38th Parallel. Later the Americans concentrated their forces and waged a counter-offensive. We and Comrade Kim Il-sung withdrew to the 38th Parallel, where we ended up locked in a stalemate and dug in. The entire Korean War lasted for almost three years. The U.S. aircraft were like wasps, while we did not have even a single plane at the front. Both sides agreed to hold peace talks, but where? They suggested a Danish boat; we suggested Kaesong, part of our territory, and they agreed. But since this meant arriving and leaving the meetings each day under a white flag, they soon felt very embarrassed, and suggested changing to another place, right on the front line, called Panmunjom. We said okay. But after a year of talks, the Americans still wouldn‘t put their signature on anything, and kept procrastinating. Finally, in 1953, we broke through the 38th Parallel along a sector of 20 kilometres, which frightened the Americans so much they signed right away. For all their strength, all their steel, the Americans could not do otherwise. This war was actually fought by three countries, Korea, China and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union supplied the arms. But on the enemy side, there were 16 countries.

Number four: the war in Vietnam. The French were so severely beaten by Ho Chi Minh they were shitting their pants. There are people here to prove it; Comrade Ho Chi Minh is here among us. The French did not want to go on, but the Americans insisted. They had more steel. But even the Americans were only able to supply weapons and keep up the tension. They did not send any soldiers. Hence the Geneva conference, where more than half of Vietnam became the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

Number five: the Suez incident. Two of the imperialists waged an attack and fought for a few days. Then the Soviet Union spoke up and they withdrew. Of course, there was also a second factor, namely, that the entire world spoke up and opposed the Anglo-French occupation.

Number six: Syria. The Americans had already planned an attack when the Soviet Union not only spoke up but appointed a general by the name of Rokossovsky. These two things made them decide not to fight. But this affair is not over yet, and we must remain vigilant. There may still be trouble, but so far there has not yet been any fighting.

Number seven: the Soviet Union has launched two sputniks. How much steel did they have when they managed to do that? 51,000,000 tons. But aren‘t the United States supposed to be formidable? Then why haven‘t they been able to launch even a pellet, what with their 100,000,000 tons of steel, their boasting and their Vanguard project. Why, they should change the name of the Vanguard project to the Trail Behind project!

From these seven events, I think we can draw the following conclusion: we have left the West behind. Close behind or far behind? In my view — and perhaps I am somewhat of an adventurist — I‘d say they have been left behind for good. Before the Soviet Union had launched the sputniks the socialist States were already overwhelmingly superior to the imperialist countries in terms of people‘s support and populousness. Now, with the launching of the Soviet sputniks, we are overwhelmingly superior in the most important field of science and technology as well. People say that the United States will be able to catch up with us and that they too will be able to launch sputniks. This is true. Comrade Khrushchev said in his report that the United States is able to launch sputniks. But at the moment they are still debating about whether they need one, two or even five years to catch up with the Soviet Union. I don‘t care whether it‘s one, two or five years; they are still behind. Presumably our Soviet comrades, and you, Comrade Khrushchev, sleep only at night and not during the day. It won‘t be as though the Soviet people will be sleeping day and night during that time, will it? The Americans may think they will catch up with the Soviet Union in one, two or five years, but by then the Soviet Union will be even further ahead.

Comrades, let me say something about China‘s domestic affairs. This year we have produced 5,200,000 tons of steel. In another five years, we can produce 10-15,000,000 tons of steel. In another five years, we can produce 20-25,000,000 tons of steel and in yet another five years we can produce 35-40,000,000 tons of steel. Of course, perhaps I am only bragging and maybe at the next session of this international conference you will accuse me of having been subjectivistic. But these assertions of mine are really well founded: we have many Soviet advisers who help us and the Chinese people are willing to exert themselves. Although today China is a major country politically and as far as the size of its population is concerned, economically it is still a small country. But our people are willing to exert themselves and work enthusiastically to turn China into a truly major country. Khrushchev has told us that the Soviet Union can overtake the United States in 15 years. I can also tell you that in 15 years, we may have caught up with or overtaken Great Britain. Because, after talking twice to Comrades Pollitt and Gollan and asking them about the situation in their country, I found out that at present Great Britain produces an annual 20,000,000 tons of steel and in another 15 years it may accomplish an annual 30,000,000 tons of steel. Well, what about China? In another 15 years we may have achieved 40,000,000 tons. Would that not amount to overtaking Great Britain? Therefore, in 15 years, within our camp, the Soviet Union will have overtaken the United States and China will have overtaken Great Britain.

What it all boils down to is that we must strive for 15 years of peace. Then, after that, we will be invincible. Nobody will dare to fight us. There will be everlasting peace on Earth.

At present another situation has to be taken into account, namely, that the war maniacs may drop atomic and hydrogen bombs everywhere. They drop them and we act after their fashion; thus there will be chaos and lives will be lost. The question has to be considered for the worst. The Political Bureau of our Party has held several sessions to discuss this question. If fighting breaks out now, China has only hand-grenades and not atomic bombs — which the Soviet Union has, though. Let us imagine, how many people will die if war should break out? Out of the world‘s population of 2,700,000,000, 1/3 – or if more, 1/2 — may be lost. It is they and not we who want to fight; when a fight starts, atomic and hydrogen bombs may be dropped. I debated this question with a foreign politician. He believed that if an atomic war was fought, the whole of humanity would be annihilated. I said that if the worst came to the worst and half of humanity died, the other half would remain while imperialism would be razed to the ground and the whole world would become socialist; in a number of years there would be 2,700,000,000 people again and definitely more. We Chinese have not yet completed our construction and we desire peace. However, if imperialism insists on fighting a war we will have no alternative but to make up our minds and fight to the finish before going ahead with our construction. If every day you are afraid of war and war eventually comes, what will you do then? First, I have said that the east wind prevails over the west wind and that war will not break out, and now I have added these explanations about the situation in case war should break out. In this way both possibilities have been taken into account.

I said ten pieces of evidence and just now I mentioned seven. Here are three more:

The eighth is the withdrawal of the United States from large territories in Asia and Africa.

The ninth is the Dutch withdrawal from Indonesia.

The tenth is the withdrawal of France from Syria, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, and their hopeless situation in Algeria.

Who are the stronger ones, the backward countries or the advanced countries? India or Great Britain? Indonesia or the Netherlands? Algeria or France? In my view, all imperialists are like the Sun at 18:00 in the afternoon and we are like the Sun at 06:00 in the morning. Hence a turning-point has been reached, that is to say the Western countries have been left behind and we now clearly have the upper hand. It is definitely not the west wind that prevails over the east wind, so weak is the west wind. It is definitely the east wind that prevails over the west wind, because we are the stronger ones.

The decisive factor is not the amount of steel, but rather first of all the desire of the people. Throughout history, this has always been the case. Throughout history, the weak have always defeated the strong and people without guns have always defeated the fully armed. Once upon a time the bolsheviks did not have a single gun. The Soviet comrades told me that at the time of the February revolution they had only 40,000 Party members. At the time of the October Revolution they still only had 80,000 Party members. On page one of the first chapter of the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik), Short Course there is an example of dialectics which describes a development from a tiny group to an entire country and how the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, from being at first only a small group of a few dozens of scattered people, became the leaders of the entire country. Soviet comrades, when you revise the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, I hope you will not delete these lies. It was the same in China. At first we were just a small communist group consisting of a few dozens of scattered people and now we too are the leaders of our entire country, a party leading 640,000,000 people. Our small group of a few dozen communists has now developed into a big party with 12,000,000 members. I address these words in particular to the comrades from the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries, because they are still having a hard time. Some Parties are very small and some have seen Party members withdraw in droves. My view is that this is nothing strange. Perhaps it is even a good thing. Our road is tortuous and resembles an ascending spiral.

Let me say something about paper tigers. When Chiang Kai-shek started his offensive against us in 1946, many of our comrades and the people of the country were much concerned about whether we could win the war. I myself was concerned. But we were confident of one thing. At that time an American correspondent, Anna Louise Strong, came to Yan‘an. She is the female author who lived in the Soviet Union for 20, 30 years and who was kicked out by Stalin but later rehabilitated by Comrade Khrushchev. I discussed many questions with her, including Chiang Kai-shek, Hitler, Japan, the United States and the atom bomb. I said all allegedly powerful reactionaries are merely paper tigers. The reason is that they are divorced from the people. Look! Wasn‘t Hitler a paper tiger? Wasn‘t he overthrown? I also said that the Tsar of Russia was a paper tiger, as were the Emperor of China and Japanese imperialism, and see, they were all overthrown. U.S. imperialism has not yet been overthrown and it has the atom bomb, but I believe it too is a paper tiger and will be overthrown. Chiang Kai-shek was very powerful, for he had a regular army of more than 4,000,000. We were then in Yan‘an. What was the population of Yan‘an? 7,000. How many troops did we have? We had 900,000 guerillas, all isolated by Chiang Kai-shek in scores of base areas. But we said that Chiang Kai-shek was only a paper tiger and that we could certainly defeat him. We have developed a concept over a long period for the struggle against the enemy, namely, strategically we should despise all our enemies, but tactically we should take them all seriously. In other words, with regard to the whole we must despise the enemy, but with regard to each specific problem we must take them seriously. If we do not despise them with regard to the whole, we shall commit opportunist errors. Marx and Engels were but two individuals, and yet in those early days they already declared that capitalism would be overthrown throughout the world. But with regard to specific problems and specific enemies, if we do not take them seriously, we shall commit adventurist errors. In war, battles can only be fought one by one and the enemy forces can be destroyed only one part at a time. Factories can be built only one by one. Peasants can plough the land only plot by plot. The same is even true of eating a meal. Strategically, we take the eating of a light meal lightly, we are sure we can manage it. But when it comes to the actual eating, it must be done mouthful by mouthful: you cannot swallow an entire banquet at one gulp. This is called the piecemeal solution and is known in military writings as destroying the enemy forces one by one.

I have finished talking about the first question. Now I would like to address the second question and say a few words about unity.

I am very glad, very happy, that our meeting has been so united. This meeting has reflected a trend: that of the increasing vigour of the proletariat and peoples of the entire world and of the east wind prevailing over the west wind. We have many defects and have committed many errors, but our achievements are what counts. Year after year we have scored remarkable achievements. All this can be seen in the vigour of this meeting of more than 60 Communist Parties. We have all agreed that we must have a head. That head is the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. There is a Chinese saying which goes: «A snake without a head cannot proceed.» Look: each person here has a head, and every Party of every country also has its head. There are collective heads and individual heads. Central Committees and Political Bureaus are collectives, and 1st Secretaries are individuals. We must have both, otherwise there will be anarchy.

Gomułka‘s speech yesterday made me happy. He said that to admit that the Soviet Union is our head is to admit the truth, and not something manmade, but the product of historical development. But in his country, there are still some people who for the time being balk a bit at that description, and who prefer using such expressions as «the first and mightiest socialist power». In his country, there exists this kind of a contradiction: the progressive elements have not yet been able to reconcile themselves with a substantial number of people. They still have to work at it. I believe Comrade Gomułka is a good person. Comrade Khrushchev has indicated to me twice that Comrade Gomułka can be trusted. I hope that we — Poland, the Soviet Union, China and all other countries — can become completely united and that we can gradually improve our relations.

I am also glad the Yugoslav comrades signed the second declaration. The fact that they signed the Peace Manifesto of the 60-odd Parties, what does it signify? It signifies unity. They did not sign the 12-country declaration, and therefore of the 13 countries one is missing. They say they would have found it difficult, and I figure this is also acceptable. We cannot coerce people, and if Yugoslavia is unwilling to sign then let us leave it at that. In another couple of years, I think they will be able to sign a different declaration.

With regard to the question of unity I‘d like to say something about approaches. I think our attitude should be one of unity towards every comrade, no matter who, provided they are not a hostile element or a saboteur. We should adopt a dialectical, not a metaphysical, approach towards them. What is meant by a dialectical approach? It means being analytical about everything, acknowledging that human beings all make mistakes and not negating a person completely just because they have made mistakes. Lenin once said that there is not a single person in the world who does not make mistakes. I have made many mistakes and these mistakes have been very beneficial to me and taught me a lesson. Everyone needs support. An able fellow needs the help of three other people, a fence needs the support of three stakes. These are Chinese proverbs. Still another Chinese proverb says with all its beauty the lotus needs the green of its leaves to set it off. You, Comrade Khrushchev, even though you are a beautiful lotus, you too need the leaves to set you off. I, Mao Zedong, while not a beautiful lotus, also need leaves to set me off. Still another Chinese proverb says three cobblers with their wits combined equal Zhuge Liang, the master mind. This corresponds to Comrade Khrushchev‘s slogan – collective directorship. Zhuge Liang by himself can never be perfect, he has his limitations. Look at this declaration of our 12 countries. We have gone through a first, second, third and fourth draft and have not yet finished polishing it. I think it would be presumptuous for anyone to claim God-like omniscience and omnipotence. So what attitude should we adopt towards a comrade who has made mistakes? We should be analytical and adopt a dialectical, rather than a metaphysical approach. Our Party once got bogged down in metaphysics, in dogmatism, which totally destroyed anyone not to its liking. Later we repudiated dogmatism and came to learn a little more dialectics. The unit; of opposites is the fundamental concept of dialectics. In accordance with this concept, what should we do with a comrade who has made mistakes? We should first wage a struggle to rid them of their wrong ideas. Second, we should also help them. Point one, struggle, and point two, help. We should proceed from good intentions to help them correct their mistakes so that they will have a way out.

However, dealing with persons of another type is different. Towards persons like Trotsky and like Chen Duxiu, Zhang Guotao and Gao Gang in China, it was impossible to adopt a helpful attitude, for they were incorrigible. And there were individuals like Hitler, Chiang Kai-shek and the Tsar, who were likewise incorrigible and had to be overthrown because we and they were absolutely exclusive of each other. In this sense, there is only one aspect of their nature, not two. In the final analysis, this is also true of the imperialist and capitalist systems, which are bound to be replaced in the end by the socialist system. The same applies to ideology, idealism will be replaced by materialism and theism by atheism. Here we are speaking of the strategic objective. But the case is different with tactical stages, where compromises may be made. Didn‘t we compromise with the Americans on the 38th Parallel in Korea? Wasn‘t there a compromise with the French in Vietnam? At each tactical stage, it is necessary to be good at making compromises as well as waging struggles. Now let us return to the relations between comrades. I would suggest that talks be held by comrades where there has been some misunderstanding between them. Some seem to think that, once in the Communist Party, people all become saints with no differences or misunderstandings, and that the Party is not subject to analysis, that is to say, it is monolithic and uniform, hence there is no need for talks. It seems as if people have to be 100% marxists once they are in the Party. Actually there are marxists of all degrees, those who are 100%, 90, 80, 70, 60, or 50% marxist, and some who are only 10 or 20% marxist. Can‘t two or more of us have talks together in a small room? Can‘t we proceed from the desire for unity and hold talks in the spirit of helping each other? Of course I‘m referring to talks within the communist ranks, and not to talks with the imperialists (though we do hold talks with them as well). Let me give an example. Aren‘t our 12 countries holding talks on the present occasion? Aren‘t the more than 60 Parties holding talks too? As a matter of fact they are. In other words, provided that no damage is done to the principles of marxism-leninism, we accept from others certain views that are acceptable and give up certain of our own views that can be given up. Thus we have two hands to deal with a comrade who has made mistakes, one hand to struggle with them and the other to unite with them. The aim of struggle is to uphold the principles of marxism, which means being principled; that is one hand. The other hand is to unite with them. The aim of unity is to provide them with a way out, to compromise with them, which means being flexible. The integration of principle with flexibility is a marxist-leninist principle, and it is a unity of opposites.

Any kind of world, and of course class society in particular, teems with contradictions. Some say that there are contradictions to be «found» in socialist society, but I think this is a wrong way of putting things. The point is not that there are contradictions to be found, but that it teems with contradictions. There is no place where contradictions do not exist, nor is there any person who cannot be analysed. To think that they cannot is being metaphysical. You see, an atom is a complex of unities of opposites. There is a unity of the two opposites, the nucleus and the electrons. In a nucleus there is again a unity of opposites, the protons and the neutrons. Speaking of the proton, there are protons and anti-protons, and as for the neutrons there are neutrons and anti-neutrons. In short, the unity of opposites is present everywhere. The concept of the unity of opposites, dialectics, must be widely propagated. I say dialectics should be moved from the small circle of philosophers to the broad masses of the people. I suggest that this question be discussed at meetings of the Political Bureaus and at the plenary sessions of the Central Committees of the various Parties and also at meetings of their Party committees at all levels. As a matter of fact, the secretaries of our Party branches understand dialectics, when they prepare reports to branch meetings, they usually write down two items in their notebooks, first, the achievements and, second, the shortcomings. One divides into two — this is a universal phenomenon, and this is dialectics.

Perhaps you resent it when I talk about questions like these at this kind of meeting, but I am not much of a person for following trends. I have also been talking for quite some time now, so I intend to finish. But before I do so, want to say just a few more things. I endorse the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union‘s solution of the Molotov question. That was a struggle of opposites. The facts prove that unity could not be achieved and that the two sides excluded each other. The Molotov clique took the opportunity to attack at a time when Comrade Khrushchev was abroad and unprepared. However, even though they waged a surprise attack, our Comrade Khrushchev is no fool, he is a smart person who immediately mobilized his troops and waged a victorious counter-attack. That struggle was one between two lines: one erroneous and one relatively correct. In the four or five years since Stalin‘s death the situation has improved considerably in the Soviet Union in the sphere of both domestic policy and policy. This shows that the line represented by Comrade Khrushchev is more correct and that opposition to this line is incorrect. Comrade Molotov is an old comrade with a long fighting history, but this time he made a mistake. This struggle between two lines within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was of the antagonistic kind, because the two sides could not accommodate each other and one side excluded the other. When this is the case, if everything is handled well there need not be any trouble, but if things are not handled well there is the danger of trouble.

Stalin did a great job in directing the Soviet Party, and his achievements were primary and outweighed his faults and errors. However, over a long period his way of thinking became increasingly metaphysical and he did a lot of harm to dialectics. The cult of the individual was metaphysical and nobody could criticize him. In my view, these 40 years of the Soviet Union amount to a dialectical process. First, Lenin‘s dialectics, then Stalin‘s numerous metaphysical viewpoints. Some viewpoints, when translated into action and taken to their extreme, inevitably turned into their own opposites and so we have dialectics once again. I am very glad that Comrade Khrushchev said in his speech at the meeting to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution that contradictions exist in socialist society. I am very glad about the many articles produced in Soviet philosophical circles addressing the internal contradictions of socialist society. Some articles have also touched upon the problem of contradictions between socialism and capitalism. These are problems involving two different kinds of contradictions.

Let me end my talk here, by declaring once more that I endorse both resolutions.