M. N. Roy Jawaharlal Nehru



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MAO TSE-TUNG (I 893-1 976)



  • Life and Circumstances

  • Mao Tse-tung was the most important figure in the history of communist China. Although he cannot be regarded as the founder of the Communist Party of China, he gave it life and philosophy.

  • Mao started his life in 1919 as a petty clerk in the library of National Peking University, and came under the influence of Chen Tu-hsin and Li Ta-chao, who were then the Dean of Arts Faculty and the Librarian respectively in the same University. It may be recalled here to understand the circumstances under which Mao*s> mind and philosophy we finally shaped, that in 1919 the Versailles Peace Conference completely disregarded China's rights and interests, even though China was an ally of the victorious powers. China's disillusionment came suddenly and unexpectedly, so that when Russia, then a young communist republic only two years old, made its declaration to China, voluntarily abolishing all unequal '-eaties contracted by the Tsarist government and offering to retrocede all territorial concessions, the Chinese intellectuals flocked into the open arms of the Soviets. On July 25, 1919, the Soviet government add­ressed its first declaration "to the Chinese people and the govern­ments of South and North China" renouncing all the conquests and special privileges acquired by the Tsarist government in China. The Soviet government urged the Chinese people to enter into official relations with them :

  • "If the people of China want to become free like the Russian people and be spared the lot prepared for them by the Allies at Versailles, which would make of China a second Korea or a second India, let it understand that its only ally and brother in its struggle for national freedom are the Russian workers and peasants and their Red Army."41

  • Such a policy of the new Soviet government attracted the Chinese scholars, particularly the late Tsai Yuan-pei, the head of the National Peking University. He was a great educationist and philo­sopher of his time, and he, being impressed by Chen Tu-hsin, Li Ta-chao and Mao Tse-tung, employed them in the University. As



    1. such, the National Peking University served as a base for spreading the communist ideology and propaganda in China.

    2. In 1920, Chen Tu-hsin and Li Ta-chao founded a society for the study of Marxism in Peking. Contemporaneously, another society of the same nature came into existence in Shanghai, known as the 'Young Socialist League'. Both societies attracted large numbers of intellectuals and young people, and were the forerunners of Chinese Communist Party.

    3. Chen Tu-hsin had established contact with Moscow as early as 1919 and sent representatives to the Soviet capital to solicit Chinese membership in the Third International, known as the Comintern.' Mr. Marling, a representative of the Comintern, arrived at Shanghai in 1920 and arranged to organize a Chinese Communist Party. Chen then called a conference of all sympathizers the following May, and the Communist Party of China was inaugurated.42 Chen Tu-hsin was elected Chairman of the party ; and Mao Tse-tung, Chang Kuo-tao,* Lin Po-chu, and others were members.

    4. Mao Tse-tung and Communist Regime

    5. On October 1, 1949 the Chinese Communist Party announced that it had taken control of the mainland, and a new regime was pro­claimed. Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Communist Party, was elected Chairman of the 'Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China'. Six Vice-Chairmen, namely Mme. Sun Yet-sen nee Soong Chin-ling, General Chu Teh, C-in-C of the communist armies, Mr. Kao Kang, Chairman of the Regional Government of North-East China, Mr. Liu Hsiao-chi, Member of Central Working Committee of the Communist Party, Chang Lan, Chairman of the China Democratic League, and General Li Chishen, Chairman of the KMT Revolutionary Committee.


      1. 2 Yakhonto, H. : Chinese Soviet.


      1. 4 "Chang is one of the oldest memhers of the Chinese Communist Parry. He was the leader of the Nan-Chang insurrection of 1927, which marked the beginning of the communist armed struggle all over the front and ended with the foundation of the first Soviet Republic in Kiang-Si. He was the Chairman of the Chinese Soviet Government in Shensi. For his feat at Nan-Chang, he was awarded the Order of Lenin on the occasion of ihe Tenth Anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Due to his differ­ent policy with Mao Tse-tung, Chang left the mainland and joined the newly formed 'China's Fighting League for Free Democracy*. (Quoted from Chou Hsiang-Kuang's Political Thought of China)

      Mao Tse-tung after assuming the charge of his office as a Chair­man, proclaimed the inauguration of the new regime. He announc­ed : "This government is willing to establish diplomatic relations with any foreign government which is willing to observe the princi-



    1. MAO 7SE-TUNG

    2. 197

    1. pie of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual respects of territorial integrity and sovereignty." A message was sent to all diplomatic re­presentatives in China inviting recognition of the new regime.

    2. In mainland-China today the Communist Party exercises abso­lute control over the state, the economy, and the people. Party state­ments about every conceivable subject always include a declaration that nothing would be possible without the "wise and correct leader­ship of the central committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, and the Central People's Government, and by firm reliance on the labouring masses." The fundamental objec­tive of the Party is to propagate Marxism abroad and, wherever an opportunity presents itself, bring about the establishment of commu­nist regimes m other countries. During the early years of the re­gime, communist policy in Asia was one of "revolutionary armed struggle." Peking gave support to the communist guerrillas in Malaya (most of whom were Chinese), assisted the communist forces in Vietnam, took part in the occupation of North.Korea and the attempt to seize South Korea, and gave help to communist dissidents in Burma, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

    3. The policy shifted in 1953 and 1954. At the Bandung Conference in April 1955, Chou En-lai, Prime Minister of China, declared his support for the five principles of peaceful co-existence. Once North Vietnam and North Korea had been brought under communist rule, there were no other Asian countries in which the local communist party was strong enough to seize control and keep it. Secondly, Peking presumably realized that a communist takeover in one country would muse its neighbours to have doubts about the desirabi ./ of a ner tralist policy.. Finally, since 1954, Peking has considered the df lomatic support of neutralist Asian countries of more immediate im­portance than revolutionary activity. This does not dean, however, that Peking has severed connections with foreign communist parties. A constant stream of Asian communist leaders visits Peking as well as Moscow in order to lay plans for disrupting governments and economies abroad. Presumably they also prepare for a future shift back to a declared policy of 'armed struggle'.

    4. 'Thought of Mao Tsc-Tnnr/' in Action

    5. In accomplishing the fundamental objectives of the Commu­nist Party, the leaders, under the guidance of Mao Tse-tung, selected certain aspects of the traditional Chinese system and used them for their own ends. These included, on the whole, the worst features of China's imperial political structure : political centralization, rule by an elite, dogmatism, exploitation of the peasantry, and expansionism. The intellectuals, political figures, and ordinary people who took part in the Chinese revolutionary movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries wanted, for the most part, to establish some form of democracy in China. Consequently, most of them were



    1. 198

    2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

    1. opposed to precisely those aspects of the imperial system which the communists have found it expedient to exploit.

    2. The ideas and doctrines of Mao Tse-tung were translated into practical policies and programmes of the Chinese Communist Party. The 'Thought of Mao Tse-tung' was not only a source of doctrine but a guide to action of the Communist Party of China. It used the 'Thought of Mao Tse-tung' for the achievement of the ends of communism in the country. Liu Hsiao-chi, Vice-Chairman of the Central People's Government of Communist China, thus expounded its uses :

    3. "Using the 'Thought of Mao Tse-tung'—the thought which unites the theories of Marxism-Leninism with the actual practice of the Chinese revolution—as the guide in all its work, our Party has formulated a revolutionary programme and revolutionary^ policies fully representing the interests of the Chinese nation and people.

    4. "It has not only waged an irreconcilable struggle against all the enemies of the Chinese nation and people and against all the reac­tionary political groups that betray the interests of the Chinese nation and people, but it has also routed opportunism of every description within the Party itself.

    5. "It is precisely under the guidance of the great 'Thought of Mao Tse-tung' that our Party has gathered together the most loyal, most courageous, most conscious and best disciplined representatives of the Chinese working class and labouring people, and has become the organized vanguard of the Chinese working class, righting most resolutely and courageously against the enemies of the Chinese nation and people, and knowing how to strike at the enemies and how to avoid their blows."*

    6. This **7tent 'Thought of Mao Tse-tung' was set forth compactly in a pamphlet, called New Democracy, originally published in 1940. Its ideas were supplemented by some of Mao Tse-tung's latter writings, of which the most important are On Coalition Government (1945), The Present Position and the Task Ahead (1947), and The People's Democratic Dictatorship (1949).

    7. Mao Tse-tung : The 'New Democracy'


      1. 5 Quoted from Chou Hsiaog-Kuana's Political Thought of China.

      The main object of these books was to show that communism is the ultimate aim of China, although it will take some years. China has to remain under the type of state called 'New Democracy' for a number of years, before it can be sovietized. 'New Democracy', according to Mao Tse-tung, means two things : first, democracy for the \people, and, second, dictatorship for the reactionaries. These two things, when combined, constitute the people's democratic dicta­torship. Under the leadership of the working class and the Commu-



    1. MAO TSE-TUNG

    2. 199

    1. nist Party in 'New Democracy', various classes unite to create their own state and elect their own government so as to enforce their dic­tatorship over the henchmen of imperialism—the landlord class and bureaucratic capitalist class, as well as the reactionary clique of the Kuomintang, which represents these classes, and their accomplices. The people's government will suppress such persons. It will only permit them to behave themselves properly. It will not allow them to speak or act wildly. Should they do so, they will be instantly curbed and punished. The democratic system is to be carried out within the ranks of the people, giving them freedom of speech, assembly and association.

    2. The 'New Democracy' is based on a compromise : it does not go in for the immediate application of Lenin-Stalinist principles. It means welding the working class, the peasantry, the petty bourgeo­isie and the national bourgeoisie into, a united front under the leader­ship of the working class, and from this proceeding to the creation of a state of the people's democratic dictatorship, a state led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. Mao Tse-tung wrote : "Our present task is to strengthen the people's state apparatus—meaning principally the people's army, the people's police and the people's courts—thereby safeguarding national defence and protecting the people's interest. Given these conditions, China, under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party, can develop steadily from an agricultural into an industrial country and from a New Democratic into a Socialist and, eventually, Commu­nist society, eliminating classes and realizing universal harmony."*

    3. Mao's definition of 'New Democracy' is based on the Leninist idea of practical democracy. At the end of his vista is a Communist China—not a China free to seek and find her independent national self-expression—a society not growing in the organic way of growth, but forcibly shaped in a mould. He described three stages by which the Marxist aim was to be accomplished in China.

    1. Placing the country under the political leadership of the Communist Party and working through the party regime ;

    2. Carrying through a Socialistic Revolution by means of policies operated by the state ; and

    3. Producing the Soviet pattern in Chinese life and society through the practice of socialism.

    1. While Sun Yat-sen's aim was to train the people in the ways of democracy and self-government, Mao Tse-tung's aim was to restrict democracy and freedom and place the people of China under the Communist Party's leadership.


      1. 6 Mao Tse-tung : People's Democratic Dictatorship.

      Communist Party's supremacy remains fundamental in communist, democracy, which Mao, later on, called 'the People's Democracy'.



    1. 200

    2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

    3. MAO TSE-TUNG

    4. 201



    1. This Party is supposed to be the vanguard of the working class in its Marxian struggle towards dictatorship. It is to guide and lead the people. The communist concept of it is not Abraham Lincoln's 'government by the people, of the people, and for the people'. They think of the people in terms of classes and perceive in all existing forms of society an inherent class-conflict. This conflict divides society into two vertical sections. Some classes are regarded as being of the people and other enemies of the people. The communist state recognizes only the former—the rest being separated form them under distinctive labels as 'bourgeoisie', 'capitalist', 'reactionary', etc.

    2. A 'People's Democracy' is democracy with regard tc those classes of society only which it recognizes healthy for its own life and progress. The classes, which it considers reactionary and unhealthy, are suppressed. Mao Tse-tung wrote :

    3. "We denniteiy have no benevolent policies toward the reactionary or the counter-revolutionary activities of the reactionary classes. Our benevolent policy does not apply to such deeds or such persons who are outside the ranks of the people; it applies only to the people.

    4. "The people's state is for the protection of the people. Once they have a people's state, the people then have the possibility of applying democratic methods on a nationwide and comprehensive scale to educate and reform themselves, so that they may get rid of the influences of domestic and foreign reactionaries. Thus, the people can reform their bad habits and thoughts derived from the old society, so that they will not take the wrong road pointed out to them by the reactionaries, but will continue to advance and develop toward a socialist and then communist society."7

    5. And the methods, which the communist leaders use, are claimed to be democratic. They claim to use the methods of persuasion and not of compulsion. If the people break the law, they will be punished, imprisoned or even sentenced to death. But these will be individual cases, differing in principle from the dictatorship imposed against the reactionaries as a class.

    6. As for those belonging to reactionary classes or groups, after tbeir political power has been overthrown, Mao Tse-tung remarked, land and work will be given. They will also be permitted to make a living and to reform themselves through labour into new persons— but only on condition that they do hot rebel, sabotage or create disturbances. If they do not want to work, the people's state will force them to do so. Furthermore, Mao wrote, "the propaganda and educational work directed toward them will be carried out with the same care and thoroughness as the work already conducted among captured army officers. This may also be spoken of as a

    7. 'benevolent policy', but it will be compulsorily imposed upon those originally from enemy classes. This can in no way be compared to our work along self-educational lines among the ranks of the revolu­tionary people.."

    8. This job of reforming the reactionary classes, according to Mao
      Tse-tung, can be handled only by a state having a people's demo-
      cratic dictatorship. When the work has been completed, China's
      major exploiting classes—the landlord class and the bureaucratic
      capitalist class, i.e., the monopoly capitalist class—will have been
      finally eliminated. 1

    9. In fact, the foundation of the people's democratic dictatorship is, according to Mao, the alliance of the working class, peasantry and urban petty-bourgeoisie. It is essentially the alliance of the workers and peasants, because these two classes comprise eighty to ninety per cent of China's population. In overthrowing imperialism and the reactionary clique of the Kuomintang, these two classes are the major force. The transition from 'New Democracy' to socialism also depends primarily upon the alliance of these two classes. Mao Tse-tung wrote : "The democratic system must be built up from the ranks of the people, giving them freedom of speech, of assembly, and of convocation. The right to vote is given to the people only, not to the reactionaries. These two aspects—democrac&for the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries—combine to form the democratic dictatorship of the people. Our present task is to strengthen the apparatus of the popular state. This applies principally to the army, the police, and the judiciary. . . .The army, the police, and the judi­ciary are the instruments by which class oppresses class. Towards hostile classes .the state apparatus is the instrument of oppression : it is violent and not benevolent. .. ."•

    10. The people's democratic dictatorship, Mao strongly believed, must have the leadership of the working class. This is because the working class is the most far-sighted class, most impartially just and most filled with revolutionary thoroughness and consistency. The entire history of revolution proves that "without the leadership of the working class, a revolution will fail ; but with the leadership of the working class, a revolution will be victorious." Mao firmly believes that in an era of imperialism, no other class in any country can lead any genuine revolution to victory. Proof lies in ihe fact that China's petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie have led revolutions on many occasions, but "all ended in failure."

    11. The communism in China is said to be fathered on Dr. Sun Yat-sen and presented as a 'national programme'. Mao Tse-tung said : "Sun Yat-sen had a different outlook from us, and started out from a different class standpoint in observing and dealing with prob-

    1. 7 Mao Tse-tung : People's Democratic Dictatorship.

    2. 8 Mao Tse-tung : People's Democratic Dictatorship.

    1. 202

    2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

    1. Iems, but in the 'twenties of the 20th century, on the problem of how to struggle against imperialism, he arrived at a conclusion which was fundamentally in agreement with ours."

    2. Yet in Dr. Sun's San Min Chu /, the stages for the progress of the Revolution as described by him decidedly do not lead towards anything like proletarian dictatorship.

    3. Mao Tse-tung, like a staunch Marxist, believed that communism stood ultimately for a classless society without which democracy and socialism, in real sense, could not be established. He stated that in a classless society, in the joint efforts of each person, acting as a member Of the society, together with the remaining members of the society, "definite productive relations were established and productive activity was carried out directed towards solving the problems of the material life of people." In various class societies definite productive relations are also established in various forms between the members of the various class societies, and "productive activity is carried out directed towards solving the problems of the material life of people. This is the basic source of the development of human cognition.""

    4. 'New Democracy' and National Culture

    5. The social practice of people is not limited to productive activity alone, but has also many other forms : the class struggle, political life, activity in the spheres of science and art; in brief, people take part in all spheres of social practical life. Hence, in the process of their cognition human beings get to understand, besides material life, various relations between people in the process of political and cultural life (closely connected with material life). An especially pro­found influence on the development of human cognition is exerted by various forms of the class struggle. In class society each person occupies a definite class position and every ideology has a class stamp. On the contrary, Marxist philosophy, as interpreted by Mao Tse-tung, believes in a broad social and political culture which the people them­selves evolve through trial and error and by using their practical common sense. Mao condemned dogmatic philosophy, and stood firmly for a philosophy that adopts scientific methods of Marx and Engels with a view to understanding the various processes of evolu­tionary society. Hence, Mao and his party had launched on an enterprise to develop a democratical and scientific cultural side to their New Democracy. Mao was of the opinion that New Democracy could be maintained without this new culture. He said :

    6. "The popular scientific culture of the broad masses of the people is anti-feudal—is the culture of New Democracy or of New San Min Chu I—it is the new national culture of the Chinese people.

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