Talk at a Report Meeting

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

TALK AT A REPORT MEETING

Chairman Mao Tse-tung
24.10.1966

Reproduced by
The Red Flag

TALK AT A REPORT MEETING

Chairman Mao: What is there to be frightened of? Have you read the brief report by Li Hsueh-feng1? His two children ran off and when they came back they gave Li Hsueh-feng a lecture. ‚Why are you old leaders so frightened of the Red Guards? They haven‘t beat you up and yet you just won‘t examine yourselves.‘ Wu Hsiu-chuan has four children and they all belong to different factions and lots of their schoolmates go to his home, sometimes ten or more at a time. When you have had more contact with them then you realize there is nothing to be afraid of; instead you think they are quite lovable. If one wants to educate others the educationist should first be educated. You are not clear-headed and dare not face the Red Guards, nor speak the truth to the students; you act like officials and big shots. First of all you don‘t dare to see people and then you don‘t dare to speak. You have been making revolution for many decades, but the longer you do it the stupider you get. In the letter Shao-chi wrote to Chiang Wei-ching, he criticized Chiang Wei-ching2 and said that he was stupid, but is he himself any cleverer?“

The Chairman asked Liu Lan-tao3: „When you have gone back, what do you have in mind to do?“

Liu replied: „I first want to go back and have a look.“

The Chairman said: „When you speak you always mince your words.“

Chairman Mao asked Premier Chou about the progress of the meeting. The Premier said: „It‘s almost finished. We will meet for another half-day tomorrow. As for the concrete problems, we can solve them according to basic principles when we get back.“

Chairman Mao asked Li Ching-chuan: „How‘s Liao Chih-kao4 getting on?“

Li replied: „In the beginning he wasn‘t very clear, but in the latter part of the meeting he was somewhat better.“

The Chairman said: „What‘s all this about being consistently correct? You yourself did a bunk. You were frightened out of your wits and rushed off to stay in the military district. When you get back you must pull yourself together and work properly. It‘s bad to paste up big-character posters about Liu and Teng in the streets. Mustn‘t we allow people to make mistakes, allow people to make revolution, allow them to change? Let the Red Guards read ‚The True Story of Ah Q‘5.“

The Chairman said: „The meeting this time is somewhat better. At the last meeting it was all indoctrination and no progress. Moreover we had no experience. Now we have had two months‘ more experience. Altogether we have had less than five months‘ experience. The democratic revolution was carried on for 28 years; we made many mistakes and many people died. The socialist revolution has been carried on for 17 years, but the cultural revolution has only been carried on for five months. It will take at least five years to get some experience. One big-character poster, the Red Guards, the great exchange of revolutionary experience, and nobody — not even I — expected that all the provinces and cities would be thrown into confusion. The students also made some mistakes, but the mistakes were mainly made by us big shots.“

The Chairman asked Li Hsien-nien: „How did your meeting go today?“

Li replied: „The Institute of Finance and Economics held an accusation meeting, and I wanted to make a self-examination, but they wouldn‘t let me speak.“

The Chairman said: „You should go there again tomorrow and make your examination, otherwise people will say you have done a bunk.“

Li said: „Tomorrow I have to go abroad.“

The Chairman said: „You should also tell them that in the past it used to be San-niang who taught her son.6 Nowadays it‘s the son who teaches San-niang. I think you are a bit lacking in spirit.

If they don‘t want to listen to your self-examination, you must still go ahead and make one. If they accuse you, you should admit your mistakes. The trouble was stirred up by the Centre, the responsibility rests with the Centre, but the regions also have some responsibility. What I‘m responsible for is the division into first and second lines. Why did we make this division into first and second lines? The first reason is that my health is not very good; the second was the lesson of the Soviet Union. Malenkov was not mature enough, and before Stalin died he had not wielded power. Every time he proposed a toast, he fawned and flattered. I wanted to establish their prestige before I died; I never imagined that things might move in the opposite direction.“

Comrade Tao Chu7 said: „Supreme power has slipped from your hands.“

The Chairman said: „This is because I deliberately relinquished it. Now, however, they have set up independent kingdoms; there are many things I have not been consulted about, such as the land problem, the Tientsin speeches, the cooperatives in Shansi, the rejection of investigation and study, the big fuss made of Wang Kuang-mei. All these things should really have been discussed at the Centre before decisions were taken. Teng Hsiao-ping never came to consult me: from 1959 to the present he has never consulted me over anything at all. In 1962 suddenly the four vice-premiers, Li Fu-chun, Tan Chen-lin, Li Hsien-nien and Po I-po8 came to look me up in Nanking, and afterwards went to Tientsin. I immediately gave my approval, and the four went back again, but Teng Hsiao-ping never came. I was not satisfied with the Wuchang Conference; I could do nothing about the high targets. So I went to Peking to hold a conference, but although you had met for six days, you wouldn‘t let me hold mine even for a single day. It‘s not so bad that I am not allowed to complete my work, but I don‘t like being treated as a dead ancestor.

After the Tsunyi conference the Centre was more concentrated, but after the 6th Plenum in 1938, Hsiang Ying and Peng Teh-huai tried to set up an independent kingdom.9 They didn‘t keep me informed about any of these things. After the 7th Congress there was nobody at the Centre. When Hu Tsung-nan marched on Yenan10 the Centre was divided into two armies; I was in North Shensi with En-lai and Jen Pi-shih;11 Liu Shao-chi and Chu Teh were in the north-east. Things were still relatively centralized. But once we entered the cities, we were dispersed, each devoting themself to their own sphere. Especially when the division was made into first and second lines, there was even more dispersal. In 1953, after the financial and economic conference, I told everybody to communicate with one another, to communicate with the Centre and communicate with the regions. Liu and Teng acted openly, not in secret, they were not like Peng Chen. In the past Chen Tu-hsiu, Chang Kuo-tao, Wang Ming, Lo Lung-chang, Li Li-san all acted openly; that‘s not so serious. But Kao Kang, Jao Shu-shih, Peng Teh-huai were two-faced. Peng Teh-huai colluded with them, but I did not know it. Peng Chen, Luo Jui-ching,12 Lu Ting-yi13 and Yang Shang-kun14 were acting secretly, and those who are secretive will come to no good end. Those who follow the wrong line should reform, but Chen, Wang and Li did not reform.“

Chou En-lai remarked: „Li Li-san did not change his thinking.“

Chairman Mao resumed: „Cliques and factions of whatever description should be strictly excluded. The essential thing is that they should reform, that their ideas should conform, and that they should unite with us. Then things will be all right. We should allow Liu and Teng to make revolution and to reform themselves. You say that I am the kind of person that mixes with thin mud. I am the kind of person that mixes with thin mud. During the 7th Congress Chen Chi-han15 said, one shouldn‘t elect people who have followed Wang Ming‘s line to the Central Committee. Wang Ming and several others were all elected members of the Central Committee. At present only Wang Ming has left, the others are all still here! Lo Fu is no good. I have a favourable impression of Wang Chia-hsiang,16 for he approved of the battle at Tungku.17 During the Ningtu Conference,18 Lo Fu wanted to expel me, but Chou and Chu did not agree. During the Tsunyi Conference he played a useful role, and at that time one couldn‘t have got by without them.19 Lo Fu was obstinate. Comrade Shao-chi opposed them, and Nieh Jung-chen20 also opposed them. We shouldn‘t condemn Liu Shao-chi out of hand. If they have made mistakes they can change, can‘t they? When they have changed it will be all right. Let them pull themselves together, and throw themselves courageously into their work. This meeting was held at my suggestion, but the time has been so short that I don‘t know whether things are clear or not. Still, it may be better than the last meeting. I had no idea that one big-character poster, the Red Guards and big exchange! of revolutionary experience would have stirred up such a big affair. Some of the students did not have a terribly good family background, but were our own family backgrounds all that good? Don‘t enlist deserters and turncoats. I myself have many Right-wing friends such as Chou Ku-cheng and Chang Chih-chung.21 Will it do not to have a few Right-wing contacts? How can one be so pure? To enter into contact with them is to investigate and study them, and understand their behaviour. The other day on the Tienanmen I deliberately drew Li Tsung-jen22 over towards me. It‘s better not to give this fellow a post; it‘s better for him not to have any position or power. Do we want to have democratic parties? Can‘t we have just one party? The Party organizations in the schools shouldn‘t be restored too early. After 1957, the Party added many new militants; Chien Po-tsan, Wu Han, Li Ta were all Party militants. Were they all so good? Are the democratic parties all so very bad? I think the democratic parties are better than Peng, Lo, Lu and Yang. We still want the democratic parties, the Political Consultative Conference; we should explain this clearly to the Red Guards. The Chinese democratic revolution was started by Sun Yat-sen. At that time there was no Communist Party. Under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen, they fought against Kang, Liang,23 and the imperial system. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Sun Yat-sen‘s birth. How shall we celebrate it? We should discuss this with the Red Guards, and we should hold commemorative meetings. The division which I introduced into first and second lines has led to the opposite result.“

Comrade Kang Sheng interrupted: „The political report at the 8th Congress contains the theory of the disappearance of classes.“

Chairman Mao replied: „I read the report, and it was passed by the Congress; we cannot make those two — Liu and Teng — solely responsible.

Factories and villages should be dealt with by stages and in batches. Go back and clarify the thinking of your fellow students in the provinces and municipalities, and hold good meetings. Find a quiet place in Shanghai in which to meet. If the students stir things up, let them. We have met for seventeen days, and it has been worthwhile. As Lin Piao says, we should do careful political and ideological work among them. In 1936 Stalin talked about the elimination of class struggle, but in 1939 he carried out another purge of counter-revolutionaries. Wasn‘t that class struggle too?

When you go back you should pull yourselves together and do your work well. Who then can overthrow you?“


1Li Hsueh-feng — 1st Secretary of the Northern China Bureau of the Communist Party of China, had replaced Peng Chen as 1st Secretary of the Peking Party branch in June 1966. He disappeared from the political scene in December 1970; Mao subsequently identified him as one of Lin Piao‘s co-conspirators.

2Chiang Wei-ching — 1st Secretary of Kiangsu Provincial Committee.

3Liu Lan-tao — 1st Secretary of the North-Western Bureau of the Communist Party of China and political commissar of the Lanchow Military Region.

4Li Ching-chuan — 1st Secretary of the South-Western Bureau of the Communist Party of China since 1961, was thus the direct superior of Liao Chih-kao, about whom Mao asks him here. Liao Chih-kao was 1st Secretary of Szechwan Provincial Committee.

5„The True Story of Ah Q“ is a famous novel by the great Chinese writer Lu Hsun.

6San-niang refers to Wang Chun, the heroine of the Peking opera „San-niang Teaches Her Son“. Third wife of a Ming Dynasty official wrongly thought to have died, she refused to remarry and devoted her life to educating her husband‘s son by his second wife, who eventually became a chuang-yuan.

7Tao Chu — Became 1st Secretary of the Central-Southern Bureau of the Communist Party of China in 1961. In the early stages of the Cultural Revolution he enjoyed a meteoric rise to power, becoming head of the Central Committee‘s Propaganda Department in July 1966, and ranking fourth, immediately after Mao Tse-tung, Lin Piao, and Chou En-lai, at the 11th Plenum in August 1966. In late December 1966, he was officially denounced.

8Li Fu-chun — A Hunanese, has been a long-time close associate of Mao Tse-tung. He worked with Mao at the Peasant Movement Training Institute in 1925-26, and is married to Tsai Chang, the sister of Mao‘s best friend, Tsai Ho-sen. He has been Chairman of the State Planning Commission since 1954.

Tan Chen-lin — Political Bureau member and the Party‘s top agricultural spokesman in 1958, had espoused radical policies in the countryside at the time of the Great Leap Forward. He was made a vice-premier of the State Council in April 1959.

Po I-po — Vice-Premier and Chairman of the State Economic Commission; he was not re-elected, even to the Central Committee, in 1969, and was extensively criticized during the Cultural Revolution for espousing the type of economic policies favoured by Liu Shao-chi.

Li Hsien-nien — Minister of Finance, Vice-Premier, and member of the Political Bureau.

9A reference to the New 4th Army Incident in Southern Anhwei, and to Peng‘s „Hundred Regiments Offensive“.

Hsiang Ying — A former labour leader, and Vice-Chairman of the Chinese Council Republic in the early 1930s, was political commissar of the New 4th Army in Central China.

10In the spring of 1947, obeying the fundamental principle of guerrilla tactics, as laid down by Mao, that the aim of war is to destroy the enemy‘s forces rather than to hold territory for its own sake, the communists abandoned their capital of Yenan without a struggle. This resulted in the separation of the top directorship into two groups, as enumerated by Mao, which lasted from March 1947 until May 1948.

11Jen Pi-shih — Was a member of the Political Bureau at the time of his death, and had been closely associated with Mao since the 1940s.

12Luo Jui-ching — Was Minister of Public Security from 1949 to 1959. Thereafter he was Chief-of-Staff of the People‘s Liberation Army up to the end of 1965.

13Lu Ting-yi — Head of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China until March 1966.

14Yang Shang-kun — At this time an alternate member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China.

15Chen Chi-han — A member of the Central Control Commission of the Communist Party of China, who retained his position on the Central Committee in 1969, was active in military and intelligence work at the time of the 7th Congress in 1945.

16Wang Chia-hsiang — Was, like the other people Chairman Mao was discussing here, a member of the „28½ bolsheviks“, that is, Wang Ming faction.

17A reference to the revolt organised by Li Li-san against Chairman Mao in December 1930. This is commonly known as Futien rebellion which began in the town of Tungku.

18In August 1932, at the Ningtu Conference Chairman Mao was stripped of his control over the Red Army. He suggests here that Lo Fu (Chang Wen-tien) wanted to expel him from the Party as well, but that Chou En-lai and Chu Teh opposed this.

19At the Tsunyi Conference of January 1935, where Chairman Mao‘s line was firmly established in the Party, Chin Pang-hsien was replaced as General Secretary by Chang Wen-tien. Without the cooperation of some of the Moscow-oriented faction, and of Chang in particular, Mao could obviously not have achieved as much as he did on this occasion in reorganizing the directorship of the Party.

20Nieh Jung-chen — Was Lin Piao‘s chief political officer during the Long March; after 1949, he occupied important positions in military and scientific work. He remains a Vice-Premier, and a member of the Central Committee.

21Chang Chih-chung — A Kuomintang general who had occupied many high posts under Chiang Kai-shek, was director of Chiang‘s North-Western headquarters from 1945 to 1949, when he switched his allegiance to the communists. After helping the new regime establish its authority in Sinkiang, he was appointed in 1954 Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Council in Peking.

22Li Tsung-jen — Acting president of the Kuomintang regime in early 1949, who returned to China from exile in the United States in 1965.

23The reformers Kang Yu-wei and Liang Chi-chao, who supported the idea of a constitutional monarchy in the early years of the 20th century.