This article is a further attempt to analyze the Gang of Four. After my first article entitled “The Rise and Fall of the Gang of Four”  was published, I received many letters from readers questioning certain points made and asking about other aspects. In this article, I again use a question-answer format to reply to some of these and other questions, focusing on the theoretical aspects of the problem. In doing so I have mainly used materials originating in the Chinese press. I shall attempt to explain some rather important theoretical problems, but because of certain limitations this can only be considered as a preliminary analysis.
- Can Chinese Politics Be Understood?
- Guiding Principles for a Theoretical Analysis
- Empiricism and Dogmatism
- Productive Forces and the Relations of Production
- What are the Characteristics of capitalist roaders?
Can Chinese Politics Be Understood?
Q. In recent months the Chinese press has printed many articles criticizing the Gang of Four. Although the papers are now far more readable than they were when the Four were in control of the media, I think that there has been far too much attention paid to relatively minor matters such as the Four’s life-style. One can find articles against the Four which use exactly the same style and language that the Gang of Four used in attacking Deng Xiaoping. Words such as “revisionism,” “capitalist roader,” etc. are used over and over again. Then there’s the ubiquitous use of quotations from Marx, Lenin and Mao, and one wonders what’s really going on. What actually conforms with the principles of Marx, Lenin or Mao Zedong? Friends who followed Chinese politics very closely during the campaign to criticize Deng Xiaoping are now finding it all rather confusing, and the Chinese politics incomprehensible. Is this so and why?
A. It is wrong to think that it is impossible to understand Chinese politics clearly. Everything that exists can be understood. Some things are not clear or seem obscure only because of the limitations of one’s experience and theoretical understanding of the problems involved. The Chinese press is now basically negating many of the things that it was saying when the Gang of Four was in control of the media. There has been, in effect, a complete change in direction. It is understandable that from the outside all of this is somewhat confusing.
The main reason for this confusion is that we are neither in China nor involved in the actual Chinese situation. For most of our information about China we have relied on the Chinese press, which until the fall of the Gang of Four was under their control. They presented a distorted view of China’s political situation. Take for example their evaluation of the Cultural Revolution. The fact that there were achievements in the Cultural Revolution is indisputable. Yet as an unprecedented revolutionary movement with no guidelines to follow, mistakes were inevitably made. Mao Zedong judged the Cultural Revolution to have been seventy percent good and thirty percent bad. The Gang of Four, however, would not allow the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution to be mentioned. Whenever anyone did, they said that it was a negation of the whole movement. Nevertheless, the masses of people, who had participated in the Cultural Revolution, were well aware of what excesses had occurred. They knew that losses in production and of state property were a product of Jiang Qing’s slogan “attack by reasoning, defend by force” and Lin Biao’s instigation of armed struggle. They also knew about Jiang’s praise of Lin, with her taking the lead in shouting the slogan, “We wish good health to Vice-Chairman Lin, eternal good health!” and then Lin respectfully replying, “Learn from Comrade Jiang Qing!” Many people saw or heard this and were deceived by it and they suffered as a result. We, outside China, heard of the achievements of the Cultural Revolution, but we didn’t see or experience the negative aspects of it — the excesses, the fighting, and the overthrow of many older cadres. Nor did we see the close relationship and mutual reliance which developed between Jiang Qing and Lin Biao. Because of this we cannot understand things in the same way as people inside China.
Compared with those in China, we knew relatively little about reactions to and understanding of the ideas and theories of the Gang of Four. They regarded the system of rules and regulations in factories as “controlling, checking and suppressing” the workers and not in line with the principle of “grasping revolution and promoting production.” At first glance this may seem reasonable, but workers in Chinese factories know from their own experience that without some form of discipline, nothing will be accomplished. The theories of the Gang of Four achieved nothing but the condoning of slack behaviour of people who were ignoring discipline in the first place, and the complete frustration of the majority of workers, who wanted to increase production. A similar example can be found in the question of abolishing examinations. Many intellectuals and students outside China who suffered from unreasonable examination systems felt very sympathetic to the Gang’s cry for the abolition of exams. In China however, teachers, students and parents are generally in agreement that it is necessary to have some form of test to determine the level of a student’s general knowledge and cultural understanding, and their ability to analyze and solve problems. They also agree that it is ridiculous to rely solely on political criteria for the selection of students. It is easy to be taken in by high flown theories that are completely divorced from reality, as those expounded by the Gang of Four, especially when one has a limited grasp of the actual situation in China.
Most of the Gang of Four’s theories were not only divorced from reality, but they were also in contradiction with Marxist-Leninist philosophy. One of the main difficulties in seeing through the Gang of Four’s theories was that they were constantly professing themselves to be using Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. In fact, they were interpreting and changing the theories to suit their own purposes. The sayings of Marx, Lenin or Mao were in reference to particular situations or people. In the hands of the Gang of Four, these statements were used as basic principles for guiding their political work. Although the original statements were not incorrect, when they were taken out of context and reinterpreted, false conclusions could be made. Because the Gang controlled the media for an extended period of time, they managed to create a lot of confusion about many of the basic principles of the Communist Party of China.
From all of the above, it can be seen that the poisonous effect of the Gang of Four’s ideological and theoretical influence far exceeds the excesses of their private lives. In the early months of the movement to expose and criticize the Gang of Four the Party and press have emphasized the Four’s life-style. This is mainly due to the fact that the Chinese people reacted more immediately to this aspect of the Four’s activities.
One way for people outside China to gain an understanding of the Chinese political situation is to deepen their theoretical and ideological awareness, and to consider more carefully the actual conditions and problems of China today.
Guiding Principles for a Theoretical Analysis
Q. What is involved in a theoretical analysis? Do objective standards exist? Before the Gang of Four was overthrown, they were emphasizing the “three basic principles” of “practise Marxism, and not revisionism; unite, and don’t split; be open and above board, and don’t intrigue and conspire” (also called the “three do’s and three don’ts”). They said one should practise Marxism and they criticized Deng Xiaoping for promoting revisionism. Now everything has been reversed and the Four themselves are being called revisionists. The works of Marx, Lenin and Mao are many; everyone can quote from them and interpret them in their own way, claiming that their interpretation is correct. Are there standards by which to judge what is true and what is not?
A. For people who are Marxist-Leninists, the standards are the basic principles of Marxism and actual experience. The basic principles of Marxism are: the philosophical theories of materialism and dialectics; political economy and the theories of productive forces and of the relations of production; and the theory of scientific socialism. Lenin once said, “The actual use of these principles will be different when applied to England and France and to Germany, and different again when applied to Russia.” Mao Zedong has said, “The consistent ideological principle of our Party is the application of theoretical Marxism-Leninism to the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution.” This means that in following the principles of Marxism and Leninism, theory and practice must be combined, and a concrete analysis of each situation must be made. A mechanical use of Marxist principles goes against those very principles.
Q. In saying that the Gang of Four are revisionists, does it mean that they violated the basic principles of Marxism, or that they only chanted slogans, were dogmatic and divorced from reality?
A. Both. Cutting oneself off from an actual situation is in itself in contradiction to Marxist-Leninist principles. The material exposing the Gang of Four makes it clear that they violated the basic Marxist philosophical tenets of materialism and dialectics and that their own theories were full of idealist and metaphysical concepts.
Q. Could you give a simple explanation of the differences between materialism and idealism, and dialectics and metaphysics?
A. Materialism and idealism are two opposing views of the relationship between matter and spirit. Materialism regards objective matter as being in existence prior to individual perception of it. Because matter exists in the external world, the individual is able to gain knowledge of it. The idealist view is that personal feeling and cognition exist apart from objective matter, and that matter is no more than an extension of subjective cognition. An example might make this clearer. In the materialist view, a flower exists apart from any perception of it; in the idealist view, the concept “I” is seen as existing prior to and being necessary for the existence of a flower to have significance; when the flower is not being perceived, it is regarded as not existing. This may seem to be rather abstract, but if you relate these theories to everyday life, then they are in sharp conflict. Materialism regards matter as being primary and an understanding of anything as derived from experience. Idealism views human ability as being innate, and understanding is obtained solely from reading books and does not depend upon actual experience. Idealists believe that “heroes create history,” “the world exists because I exist” and that the force of the human spirit is omnipotent. Materialists believe that history develops in accordance to basic laws, that “people create history,” and that only by recognizing and working in accordance with objective laws can man change his environment.
Dialectics and metaphysics are two contrasting methods of analysis. In the dialectical view, everything existing in the world is interrelated. In all moving objects there are two mutually contradictory, opposing forces, with the nature of the object being determined by the dominant aspect of the contradiction. Movement, change in or development of the object results from the mutual antagonism and transformation of the two forces contained therein. In contrast to this view, metaphysics sees the world as being comprised of isolated things and essentially static. There is no internal opposition within objects, and thus, no process of development and change.
From the theoretical point of view, the Gang of Four were idealists. This is most evident in their disregard of real conditions, their overemphasis of the role of theory and the basing of their analyses of various matters on dogmas found in books, rather than on objective reality. Their metaphysical approach was most evident when they analyzed problems and persisted in emphasizing one aspect of them to the exclusion of all others. They did not follow the dialectical principle of analyzing things in terms of two opposing forces [one divides into two], and accordingly, they were unable to see the causes of an event or the way in which it would develop. They saw things in static terms. Here we can cite the example of Mao Zedong’s “last testament,” which was forged by the Gang of Four. “Act according to the principles laid down.” The principles of any state or party are worked out in definite historical circumstances, with specific aims in mind. How can one speak of working according to external, unchanging principles that have been laid down? The statement “Act according to the principles laid down” is in itself idealistic and metaphysical. Another example of their metaphysical approach is in their criticism of the film “The Pioneers,” in which they virtually demanded the film be perfect — again a violation of dialectics. Similar examples abound. It is not very difficult for anyone with a basic knowledge of philosophical theory to see through the faults in the above concepts.
Empiricism and Dogmatism
Q. Recently the Chinese press has concentrated on criticizing the Four’s ideas on “anti-empiricism.” Mao Zedong once said, “I think that those who criticize empiricism are in fact themselves empiricists.” All these “isms” are quite hard to understand, can you explain how this relates to the philosophical thinking of the Gang of Four?
A. First of all, one has to distinguish between “experience” and “empiricism.” “Experience” ordinarily refers to the direct perceptual impressions of the external world gained through the five senses. The source and content of experience lies in the objective world. If one wants to understand and change the world, then an accumulation of experience is essential. By having this, by analyzing experiences and drawing conclusions from them, one can determine the objective principles guiding life and the significance of one’s experiences. This, in short, is the process of developing perceptual knowledge into rational knowledge. And for it to be done successfully, a correct theoretical framework is essential.
“Experience” can also mean rational knowledge or a conclusion drawn from repeated and analyzed experience. The word “experience” in the phrase “the historical experience of the proletarian dictatorship” is, in fact, a conclusion drawn from rational knowledge and does not refer to perceptual knowledge. “Empiricism” refers to an analytical method which takes limited, perceptual knowledge as an absolute, and uses it as a basis for the understanding of all experience and situations. It denies the need for a theoretical framework in analyzing experience.
Mao’s statement that, “Those who criticize empiricism are themselves empiricists,” was made in reference to the Gang of Four, who “only criticized empiricism and did not oppose dogmaticism.” The Four drew certain conclusions from their own limited experience and acted as if they were absolutes, irrespective of the objective circumstances of different situations. For example, the Soviet Union is referred to in China as a country in which “the satellite has gone into the heavens, yet the red flag has fallen to the ground.” This means that the Soviet Union has emphasized technological development to the detriment of the political line and revolution. The Gang of Four took this “experience” to be absolute, and without taking into account the actual situation in China, used the slogan of the satellite and the red flag to hinder technological advancement, declaring that too great an emphasis on technology and production would sully China’s political purity.
Q. In his article published in February 1975 entitled, “On the Social Basis of the Lin Biao Anti-Party Clique,” Yao Wenyuan quoted Mao as saying, “The greatest danger at the moment is empiricism.” Is this quote false, and if so, why didn’t Mao point it out at the time?
A. Mao Zedong actually wrote this on the fifteenth of August, 1959 in his “Introduction to ‘Empiricism or Marxism-Leninism.’” The full statement reads, “In the past we have made a theoretical criticism of dogmatism, but have not done so with empiricism. The greatest danger at the moment is empiricism.” Mao’s criticism of empiricism was directed at Peng Dehuai and the criticism had as its forerunner a criticism of dogmatism. In using this quotation, Yao Wenyuan intentionally ignored its historical context and distorted its original meaning.
Q. Even so, if empiricism is incorrect, what is wrong with criticizing it? The type of dogmatism used by Yao adheres to the dogmas of Marxism-Leninism, so how can it be called revisionism?
A. The crux of the matter was that the Gang of Four were not satisfied with merely a theoretical criticism of empiricism, but, while indicating that “anti-empiricism has a practical significance,” they equated “experience” with “empiricism” and attacked the hard-won and valuable experiences of many older cadres, declaring them to be “out of date” and “irrelevant.” Their aim in doing this was to overthrow Zhou Enlai and a large number of these older cadres, thus clearing the way for their own political ambitions. Therefore, when in March 1975, Yao Wenyuan, Zhang Chunqiao and Jiang Qing advocated the emphasizing of “anti-empiricism” as the “key link,” Mao Zedong criticized them in a directive, saying: “It seems that the formulation should be: Oppose revisionism which includes both empiricism and dogmatism. Both are a revision of Marxism-Leninism. Don’t mention just one and not the other.” In so saying, Mao turned the Four’s criticism of the “empiricism” of older cadres into a pointed ideological criticism of revisionism.
The main characteristic of dogmatism is that it emphasizes theoretical knowledge to the neglect of practical experience. It doesn’t use theory as a tool to analyze and summarize experience, but replaces practice itself with theorizing. In doing so, dogmatism makes a revision of a basic principle of Marxist-Leninist philosophy — practice first.
In summary, both empiricism and dogmatism are an expression of subjectivism; both separate theory from practice and take one or the other as an absolute. This runs counter to the Marxist-Leninist theory of cognition. It is because of this that both can be called “revisionism.”
Productive Forces and the Relations of Production
Q. There seems to have been a lot of emphasis put on economic development since the fall of the Gang of Four. In a People’s Daily editorial written at the time of the Second Conference on Agriculture in Learning from Dazhai last year, mention was made of a speedier realization of the “four modernizations,” which had been out of the news for months. Does this mean that there will be less emphasis put on political struggle and more on production in the future? Is the analysis of some western papers that the Gang of Four represented the “radical faction” and that Hua Guofeng, Li Xiannian and others are the “pragmatists” accurate?
A. It is inaccurate to simplify the struggles within the Communist Party of China into a clash between “radicals” and “pragmatists.” Hua and other leaders do not emphasize production to the exclusion of all else. At the moment, attention is being focussed on the political struggle against the Gang of Four. The Party is directing the present criticism campaign so as to both increase popular political involvement and mass enthusiasm for production.
To understand the Chinese analysis of the relation between revolution and production, it is first necessary to understand some of the basic economic theories of Marxism. In the materialist view, a prerequisite for all human endeavour is life itself, and to sustain life man requires the necessities of food, clothing, a place of habitation, etc. These are obtained through productive labour — the main practical activity of human beings. Once basic needs are satisfied, man can engage in other activities such as politics, science, art, and so on.
All people involved in productive activities are in definite relationships with each other. In political economic terminology these relationships are “the relations of production.” The relationship between a landlord and a peasant, a capitalist and a worker, an individual farmer and a collective, etc., are all different relations of production. Another aspect of production is the “productive forces,” which includes human labour, the tools of production, and technological expertise. The relations of production and the productive forces of any society form the “economic base” of that society. It is from this economic base that the “superstructure” of the society develops. The superstructure includes such fields as politics, law, science, culture, art, etc.
In any society, there is a direct and at the same time mutually-contradictory relationship between the productive forces and the relations of production, and between the economic base and the superstructure. In general, the determining factors in each relationship are the productive forces and the economic base. For example, the productive forces of a slave society act as the basis for and are in accord with the slave system. However, as the productive forces develop, existing relations of production become obsolete, and even hinder the further development of the productive forces. As a result, a “revolution” occurs bringing the relations of production (and superstructure) into accord with the ever-developing productive forces. Revolution not only clears away any obstruction to the development of the forces of production, it also gives impetus to social development. Thus, the basic cause of revolution is the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production.
Not only can the productive forces and economic base cause revolution in a society, but a change in the relations of production and the superstructure can in turn act as a catalyst in the development of productive forces. Mao Zedong made the statement, “Grasp revolution to promote production.” This means that a revolution in the relations of production and the superstructure can develop production [i.e. the forces of production].
The political movements since the founding of the People’s Republic include: agrarian reform, mutual aid, co-operative and communization movements in agriculture; reform of private business in industry and more generally, the Great Leap Forward, the rectification of cadres and emphasis on their participating in productive labour, the Cultural Revolution, the destruction of the “four olds” and establishment of the “four news,” and the development of reforms in education, health and arts. All of these movements are in fact part of a revolution in the relations of production and the superstructure [i.e. in the human and ideological spheres] which have given an impetus to change in and development of production.
The present mass movements to expose and criticize the Gang of Four and to learn from Dazhai in agriculture are being used to liberate people’s thinking, to speed up economic development and to aid in achieving the “four modernizations.”
Q. As you said, Mao always advocated “Grasping revolution to promote production” in accordance with the economic laws of society. Wasn’t the Gang of Four’s emphasis on grasping revolution also aimed at increasing production?
A. To say that revolution can stimulate production does not mean that it can be a substitute for production. Increasing production is a complex process in which a great deal of organizational work, an understanding of the laws of production and precise economic calculations to lower costs, increase efficiency, carry out scientific research and technical progress are needed, as well as the ability to quickly solve the problems that arise during the actual process of production. Painstaking work and mass participation is needed and no amount of revolutionary ardour or “grasping revolution” can replace it. Grasping revolution and increasing people’s enthusiasm is not promoted so that everyone can sing songs, dance and make empty political speeches, it is so that people can become more involved in creative production. The Gang of Four is well-known in China for their statement that, “If revolution is emphasized, then production will increase by itself.” This is quite unrealistic.
Q. When the Gang of Four was in power there were many articles written criticizing “the theory of solely emphasizing productive forces,” and warning people against the danger of “the satellite going into the heavens, yet the red flag falling to the ground.” Now all of this is being criticized. Is it possible that the Chinese leadership will emphasize production and pay less attention to political correctness?
A. “The theory of solely emphasizing productive forces” recognizes the influence productive forces has on the relations of production, but ignores the counter-effect of the relations of production on productive forces. In addition, the theory, when referring to productive forces, only takes into account the tools of production; it ignores the human factor. In practical terms, this results in viewing social and economic progress as being a matter of strengthening productive forces, which requires modern machinery and tools. For China, this would mean that state-run industry and the collective economy could be disregarded and bonuses, profits and even foreign aid could be used to stimulate production. Those who advocate such an economic policy do not see its destructive influence on the socialist organization of production — that a privileged class will rise and that the productive forces themselves will suffer in the long run, as is seen in the Soviet Union today. Similarly, the proponents of such a theory do not recognize the long-term benefit and influence that revolution has on the relations of production and the superstructure, and on the development of the economy. It is these aspects of “the theory of solely emphasizing productive forces” which are still being criticized in the Chinese press.
The Gang of Four only made a superficial criticism of this theory, and they mechanically equated any attempt to increase production with “the theory of solely emphasizing productive forces.” They put revolution and production on opposing sides, and said that those who wanted to improve production were ignoring revolution — using “the theory of solely emphasizing productive forces” and “working with all their might without looking where they were going.” By doing this, the Gang of Four held back production. Whoever tried to strengthen factory management was accused of “controlling, checking and suppressing” the workers; increasing quality control was criticized as “putting technique above all,” and anyone who was involved in studying technology and technological improvements was attacked as being someone “walking on the road of white specialization.” Those who were concerned about the economy and who tried to increase state reserves were said to be “putting profits in command.” Many cadres who attempted to increase the workers’ standard of living were criticized for “promoting material incentives.” All of the above criticisms were part of the attack on “the theory of solely emphasizing productive forces,” which was, in fact, an attack aimed at a large number of experienced cadres who were working to improve production, for it was they who stood in the way of the Gang’s rise to ultimate power.
In philosophical terms, the Gang’s thinking and methods are no more than subjective idealism, based on dogmatic assumptions. They do not make an analysis of concrete situations. An example of this is Zhang Chunqiao’s frequently quoted statement about the satellite and the red flag. There is not necessarily a direct relationship between the two. Just because a socialist country can make satellites does not mean that it will inevitably turn revisionist. Though this is true in the case of the Soviet Union, there are some countries that have became revisionist without producing any satellites. If a country follows a correct political line, it can both make satellites and keep the red flag flying. Just because the Soviet Union has attained technological advancement at the cost of becoming revisionist does not mean that China need necessarily follow the same path. Among scientists who specialize in technological research, there are those who only concentrate on technical expertise, but others manage to be both politically active and technically proficient. All of these situations are different and need to be analyzed according to their own merits. Other “crimes” that the Gang of Four accused people of can be similarly analyzed and exposed.
What are the Characteristics of capitalist roaders?
Q. In the past, the Four always used the phrase “capitalist roaders who are still taking the capitalist road” against others; now they themselves are being called “the capitalist roaders who are on the capitalist road right now.” In recent years anyone who fell from power has been called a “capitalist roader.” What are “capitalist roaders”? Are the Four really capitalist roaders? And why are there so many capitalist roaders at the higher levels of the Communist Party of China?
A. One of Mao Zedong’s contributions to Marxism-Leninism was his analysis — from the experiences of China and the Soviet Union, of the rise of a new privileged class in socialism. This new privileged class is in the Communist Party, and due to its high position it has great power. Because of their wide-ranging powers, members of this group can use state property as they wish, accumulate wealth and live a life of luxury far removed from that of the ordinary worker. In this way, they become parasitic bureaucrats. When this happens, any measure which tends to curb the power and privileges of these “capitalist roaders” and lead the society closer to communism is in direct opposition to their interests, while they will welcome any moves that widen the gap between the leadership and the masses. Mao Zedong pointed out that “In carrying out the socialist revolution, you don’t know where the bourgeoisie is, well it’s in the Communist Party — those in power who are on the capitalist road, capitalist roaders are still on the move.” The phenomenon of “capitalist roaders” is a basic problem for the whole period of the socialist revolution. A reading of the materials exposing the activities of the Four shows that although they spoke a lot about Marxism and Leninism, their life-style, abuse of privileges, their repression and maltreatment of subordinates, as well as the damage they did to China’s economy, are all characteristic of the new-style bourgeoisie — the “capitalist roaders.”
Q. If capitalist roaders are a basic problem for the whole period of the socialist revolution, then how can they be identified? Early last year the Chinese press talked about the “bourgeois democrats of the past being the capitalist roaders of today.” But wasn’t this directed at cadres who couldn’t keep up with the times and the changes in the revolutionary situation?
A. That’s right. However, the press at that time was controlled by the Gang of Four, and their own theory concerning capitalist roaders was in contradiction with Mao’s ideas on socialist society. The Four concocted the following formula: capitalist roaders were democrats; democrats were people who took part in the democratic revolution. They said that “in the past these people were the Party’s fellow travellers, but in the socialist period they are the object of revolution.” This was, in fact, an attack on the majority of senior cadres in the Party. Jiang Qing even went so far as to say: “Over 75 per cent of the old cadres will inevitably go from being democrats to being capitalist roaders.” She declared this to be an “objective law,” and that the old cadres who had “eaten husks in the old society, shouldered rifles in the War of Resistance against Japan, fought Jiang Jieshi to liberate China and were wounded in the Resist America-Support Korea War […] have now no intention of go forward.” In so saying, she ignored class analysis and used age to differentiate revolutionaries from capitalist roaders. Such an analysis is purely metaphysical. The Four’s aim in making this “new analysis” was to designate the majority of old cadres to be capitalist roaders, and make a few young cadres loyal to their ideas into the true “revolutionaries.” This created friction between old and young cadres, which further aided the Four in their plans to take over power.
The basic standard for differentiating between capitalist roaders and revolutionaries within the Party is adherence to Mao’s principle of the “three do’s and the three don’ts.” The Gang of Four ignored this and used their own standards to cause a split between young and old cadres.
Q. Is the contradiction with capitalist roaders in the Party an antagonistic or a non-antagonistic one? Can capitalist roaders recognize their mistakes and continue to take part in the revolution? Or are all capitalist roaders “unrepentant” or even “unrepenting to death”?
A. When the Gang of Four put forth the literary policy of “writing about the struggle with capitalist roaders” in early 1976, they stated, “In the majority of cases, they [capitalist roaders] don’t reform, and the bigger capitalist roaders can’t reform.” They said that to designate capitalist roaders as “good people who made mistakes” was “confusing contradictions of different natures” [i.e.—confusing an antagonistic with a non-antagonistic contradiction]. They even went so far as to say, “Capitalist roaders are counter-revolutionaries; they should be arrested and tried, some should even be shot.” Such statements are not an accurate reflection of the problem of capitalist roaders, nor is arrest or execution a suitable way of dealing with this problem. “Capitalist roaders within the Party” refers to Party leaders who carry out a revisionist line. Among these are some good people who have made mistakes as well as some traitors, spies and even plotters and careerists who have joined the Party.
The problem of the good people who have made mistakes is an internal contradiction [i.e. a non-antagonistic contradiction]. There are many cadres who carried out a revisionist line before the Cultural Revolution, and who after being criticized and re-educated, recognized their mistakes and returned to work with the support and acceptance of the masses. The experience of the Cultural Revolution shows that the majority of cadres who made capitalist roader errors are willing to reform and are capable of doing so. As for the cadres who have not only made political mistakes, but who have been proven to be traitors, spies, careerists and plotters, like Liu Shaoqi, Lin Biao and the Gang of Four, the contradiction is an antagonistic one and must be dealt with more severely.
Problems of capitalist roaders can’t be studied without reference to the background of the errors and the attitude and personal history of the person involved. If these factors aren’t considered, the two different types of contradictions can be confused.
There can be no leniency when criticizing the political line followed by a capitalist roader. If it is not severely criticized, its influence won’t be eliminated nor will the people who have been influenced by it realize their errors and mend their ways. Such criticism must be reasonable, convincing and factual, unlike some of the shoddy, one-sided and unreasonable attacks made by the Four in their articles criticizing Deng Xiaoping. The very manner in which they dealt with the problem of capitalist roaders revealed the Four’s ulterior motives.
Q. Shouldn’t the Communist Party take measures to prevent the abuse of power and position by capitalist roaders and higher level leaders? In the evidence disclosed in recent months during the criticism of the Gang of Four (and particularly of Jiang Qing), there are many shocking examples of decadence and autocracy. Doesn’t the gap between those with special privileges and those without show that there are problems within the system itself?
A. The strengths and weaknesses of any system are relative. No system in the world is perfect. The Chinese system is no exception. Since the Cultural Revolution the Party’s policy of rebuilding both Party and State organizations has been repeatedly hampered by first Lin Biao and then the Gang of Four’s “leftist in form and rightist in essence” political lines. The system of democratic centralism has also been adversely affected. In the last ten years, the media have been in the hands of the Gang of Four, and they have used this power to cause widespread confusion in the ideological sphere. This has left many people thinking that there are no standards by which to judge things. This has further impeded the normal functioning of the system. After the fall of the Four, I think we can expect to see the revitalization of the various systems and bodies affected in recent years. One indication of this has been the holding of the Third Session of the People’s Congress in December last year, in accordance with the constitution.
Q. In what fields other than the ones you’ve already mentioned did the Four cause confusion in people’s thinking?
A. In the above I’ve only touched on philosophy, political economics and sociology. But the Four had some influence and caused damage in nearly all major areas, such as education, arts, history, etc. The materials being disclosed in the Chinese press show that the widespread influence of the Four will have to be corrected.