Two days ago, the bourgeois liberal/social democratic newspaper Guardian put out an article, well received by anti-communists of various types, including many “leftists” in the West, which repeats tired canards about the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which began in earnest on May 16, 1966, 50 years ago this Monday. The Guardian piece, titled “What mistake did we make?’ Victims of Cultural Revolution seek answers, 50 years on”, is an atrocious piece, calling the Cultural Revolution a “ruinous political movement” and copying accounts from people whose family members were struggled against and died as a result, one of whom stated “Nothing like this happened in 5,000 years of Chinese civilization…it can’t be allowed to happen again”. What shouldn’t be allowed to happen again, and why? Does this individual interviewed for this bourgeois hit piece not know that the lion’s share of China’s 5,000 year history, for the masses of Chinese people, was spent under indescribable pain and suffering in the slave, feudal, semi-feudal, and bureaucrat-capitalist system? The revolution that saw military victory in 1949 with the overthrow of the Kuomintang reactionaries and bureaucrat-capitalists under chief warlord Chiang Kai-Shek marked the essential end of 5,000 years of oppression and soul-crushing depredation for hundreds of millions of people! This thing that shouldn’t be allowed to happen again was, objectively, the most free stage of recorded human history in China from the perspective of the masses, if not the world.
Just when we began the counter-offensive against the wild attacks of the bourgeoisie, the authors of the outline raised the slogan: ‘everyone is equal before the truth’. This is a bourgeois slogan. Completely negating the class nature of truth, they use this slogan to protect the bourgeoisie and oppose the proletariat, oppose Marxism-Leninism, and oppose Mao Zedong’s thought. In the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between the truth of Marxism and the fallacies of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes, either the East wind prevails over the West wind or the West wind prevails over the East wind, and there is absolutely no such thing as equality. Can any equality be permitted on such basic questions as the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the proletariat in the superstructure, including all the various spheres of culture, and the continued efforts of the proletariat to weed out those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have sneaked into the communist party and who wave ‘red flags’ to oppose the red flag? For decades the old-line Social Democrats, and for over ten years the modern revisionists, have never allowed the proletariat equality with the bourgeoisie. They completely deny that the several thousand years of human history is a history of class struggle. They completely deny the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, the proletarian revolution against the bourgeoisie, and the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, they are faithful lackeys of the bourgeoisie and imperialism. Together with the bourgeoisie and imperialism, they cling to the bourgeois ideology of oppression and exploitation of the proletariat and to the capitalist system, and they oppose Marxist-Leninist ideology and the socialist system. They are a bunch of counter-revolutionaries opposing the communist party and the people. Their struggle against us is one of life and death, and there is no question of equality. Therefore, our struggle against them, too, can be nothing but a life-and-death struggle, and our relation with them can in no way be one of equality. On the contrary, it is a relation of one class oppressing another, that is, the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. There can be no other type of relation, such as a so called relation of equality, or of peaceful coexistence between exploiting and exploited classes, or of kindness or magnanimity.
So reads the famous May 16th Circular, which is generally considered to have marked the beginning of the mass Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The Group of Five, the group in charge of initiating the Cultural Revolution and giving it a mass character, instead tried to work solely within the small group and avoid mobilizing the masses, effectively sabotaging it and clearing the way for the strengthening of those who wished to take the capitalist road. In this letter, the representatives in practice and essence of the bourgeoisie and of the old ruling class were resolutely condemned and exposed by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, and created a new Cultural Revolution Group, of which Comrade Jiang Qing was a prominent member, along with Yao Wenyuan and Zhang Chunqiao, who were eventually labeled the “Gang of Four”, along with Wang Hongwen, and railroaded and arrested in a revisionist coup in 1976. The May 16th document outlined the immense danger that the capitalist roaders and their lines posed to the socialist system and the masses of people, as they hankered after and would constantly and ceaselessly struggle to reclaim their position. Revolution is not a one time deal, where guns are fired, power is captured, and things are good for forever and a day. Classes continue to exist, thus, the class struggle continues under socialism. To believe that classes disappear after socialist transformation begins is metaphysics, idealism, and not consistent with reality. Communism is a classless society, the socialist period is a transition stage to this society. Moving towards communist relations and struggling against the restoration of capitalism through falling prey to revisionism is the job of the proletariat during the socialist period, which Mao predicted will probably last hundreds of years. Neglect of the class struggle and failure to ensure that proletarian politics is in command at all times results in capitalist restoration. This is a major point that modern revisionists, following in the footsteps of Khrushchev and Deng Xiaopeng, who uphold modern day state capitalist nightmares, such as China, Laos, Cuba, North Korea and the Soviet Union after the 1950s as socialist fail to, or stubbornly refuse to understand. This type of stale, vulgar dogma and metaphysics, calling simple state ownership of means of production “socialism”, without investigating the position of the masses and seeing whose politics really are in command, is a disservice to socialism and the masses of people who suffer from this revisionism, no matter how hard they try to explain it away or justify it. The class struggle continues after socialism, and if revolutionary proletarian politics are not put in command, the proletariat will lose state power to the bourgeoisie and the reactionaries, and the state capitalist system will be rigged up. This is what happened to the Soviet Union in the 1950s, the class struggle was neglected and subsequently the revisionists, led by Nikita Khrushchev, seized state power and the proletariat was defeated. The Cultural Revolution was made to prevent this happening in the People’s Republic of China, by mobilizing and empowering China’s hundreds of millions in the heroic task of combating Khrushchevite and Brezhnevite tendencies, lines, thoughts, and practices that undermined the socialist system and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts must take place to consolidate the revolution, and this must happen constantly, throughout the socialist era. Capitalists seek to restore themselves to power, and the proletariat must wage a more fierce, deep, and determined struggle to maintain, consolidate, and expand their hold on power.
Anti-communists generally portray the Cultural Revolution as a time of chaos, when gangs of wild, rebellious youth roamed the streets and countryside wantonly and randomly beating up the aged, torturing their teachers, and starting fights, and when workers attacked their bosses and generally drove the country into panic, chaos, and fear. This belies their own bourgeois and petty-bourgeois class outlook. The Cultural Revolution was the highest stage of socialist advancement to date. A little over a week after the issuance of the May 16th letter, on May 25th, the first Dazibao, or “big character poster”, was put up at Peking University, criticizing university officials. The country was soon awash in these posters, which filled schools, offices, factories and city streets. Everyone criticized what they saw as wrong in society, without fear. Compare this to pre-liberation days when landlords and capitalists and scholar-officials stifled the voices of the masses with brutal violence! Compare this to the modern day United States, where people cast votes that mean absolutely nothing whatsoever and the voices and wishes of the people are generally ignored or met with repressive force when struggle escalates! Mass protests and demonstrations were held (the police did nothing, because they wouldn’t and couldn’t. The people held power here and were doing nothing wrong under the people’s dictatorship), where millions of people took part and denounced the reactionaries, capitalist-roaders, and all who would dare take away and write out of existence the people’s dictatorship. The whole revolutionary force of the Chinese people took part in the class struggle and said no to capitalism, with force. A proletarian class outlook will uphold the force of the masses to prevent the restoration of capitalism through revisionism and neglect of the class struggle. A proletarian class outlook upholds the Cultural Revolution!
“The masses of the workers, peasants, soldiers, revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionary cadres form the main force in this Cultural Revolution…through the media of big character posters and great debates, they argue things out, expose and criticize thoroughly, and launch resolute attacks on the hidden and open representatives of the bourgeoisie.” So say the 16 Points, a guide for the Cultural Revolution. This was applied to practice all throughout the country, in every factory, school, office and workplace. This revolutionized relations, brought millions of people into the direct management and running of the country and its affairs. The people spoke and wrote, and their words had teeth. Bureaucrats that loved being bureaucrats, sitting in their offices and not involving themselves with production or not engaging on an equal basis were resoundingly criticized and thoroughly struggled with until they rectified their behavior. This is what a revolution looks like, this is what democracy looks like, this is what defending the gains of one’s revolution looks like, this is what anti-capitalism looks like, and this is what rule by the people looks like. Workers, peasants, students, and other segments of the masses criticized and talked politics in newspaper articles, on their dazibaos, in the streets, and at work. People who made mistakes and had incorrect lines and practices were struggled with and eventually made to self-criticize for these mistakes. Workers, peasants, students, and their politics were in control. The Red Guards wouldn’t have allowed a Darren Wilson to roam the streets unchecked and free, and there wouldn’t be drug dealers, rapists, and other anti-people elements to live in their neighborhoods. Bombard the Headquarters meant that no counterrevolutionary, no reactionary, and no stubborn bureaucrat or bad element that stood in the way of this revolution was safe. Many Western “communists” in their snug book clubs that loathe, distrust, look down upon, and ultimately hate the masses and think that their particular dogma that was pulled out of thin air by people just like them, just in better clothes, call this “chaos”, but the masses call it revolution. What the smug and arrogant dogmato-sectarian type groups like the Spartacus League (gross) fail to realize, because they never go among the masses, listen to them, or apply the mass line, is that the masses of people the world over are the motive force of history, and have a immeasurably vast potential, ability, and initiative for grasping and carrying out the tasks of revolution. The masses of Chinese workers, peasants and soldiers made cultural revolution.The masses liberate themselves, and they do a damn good job at it, with no help from leftcom preaching or Trotskyite newspapers that yammer on and on about a dead man that nobody really cared much for when he was alive and how the individual that led the defense of Marxism-Leninism, led the war against fascism, and led the international communist movement was a really mean dude.
The goal of the Cultural Revolution, in sum, was to struggle against and crush those who wished to take the capitalist road and destroy the socialist revolution, to struggle against bourgeois “experts” and “authorities” who lorded it over the masses, and transform culture, art, music, literature, and education on the people’s terms. Did innocent people end up unjustly struggled against and sometimes killed? Sure? Does that mean that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution isn’t a weapon in the hands of the proletariat in the struggle for communism? Only if the proletariat wants the restoration of capitalism, complete with suicide nets, bondage and servitude to foreign companies that have been allowed to exploit Chinese workers, and the Tienanmen Square type atrocities that have marked the Chinese state since the coming to power of the capitalist roader Deng Xiaoping, the end of the Cultural Revolution, and the arrest and railroading of Comrades Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen, Yao Wenyuan, and Zhang Chunqiao. The sorry state of modern day China is confirmation of the need for Cultural Revolution and consistent and deep waging of the class struggle by the proletariat. Marxist-Leninist-Maoists uphold the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, begun 50 years ago this week, as the highest advance of the people’s forces in the struggle against the capitalists to date, and for good reason. The Cultural Revolution taught lessons and provided a great weapon that no amount of anti-communist, anti-people, and reactionary boo-hooing, fiction, forged figures, and sob stories can take away.