Three Major Struggles On China's Philosophical Front (1949-1964)
The three major struggles on the philosophical front... told us that the struggle between the two lines is... the struggle between the two world outlooks, the proletarian and the bourgeois. One's world outlook decides which line he defends and implements.
We must not take the struggle in philosophy to be merely an "academic controversy."
The theory of "synthesized economic base," which advocated the development of capitalism, was nothing new. It was just a variant of the "theory of productive forces" which old and new revisionists in China and other countries have held sacred for scores of years. According to this "theory," China must not carry out the socialist transformation of the private ownership of the means of production, it cannot go in for socialism but can only allow capitalism to spread unchecked, because its productive forces are backward and capitalism is not developed.
The socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production was basically completed in 1956 and the Party's general line for the period of transition was successfully implemented.
The identity of opposites, that is, their mutual dependence for existence and their transformation into each other, is undoubtedly applicable to the relationship between thinking and being. By denying the identity between thinking and being, Yang Xianzhen was denying that the two opposite aspects of the contradiction, thinking and being, depended on each other for their existence and could transform themselves into each other in given conditions.
Matter can be transformed into consciousness and consciousness into matter.
In 1964, Liu Shaoqi directed Yang Xianzhen to concoct the reactionary theory "combine two into one" in open opposition to Chairman Mao's revolutionary dialectics one divides into two. This gave rise to a struggle on a still wider scale.
That year, class struggle was very acute and complex within the country and on the international scene. In concert with the class enemies abroad in their blatant anti-China activities, Liu Shaoqi and his sort lost no time in trying to effect a capitalist restoration in China. Guided by Chairman Mao's theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Chinese people waged a tit-for-tat struggle against the class enemies both within and outside the country. They launched a socialist education movement at home and conducted open polemics with modern revisionism. That the reactionary theory "combine two into one" should make its appearance at this juncture completely met the counter-revolutionary needs of the class enemies at home and abroad.
The Theory of "Synthesized Economic Base" Must Be Thoroughly Criticized
Diametrically opposed to each other, the socialist and the capitalist sectors do not and cannot exist peacefully side by side, as Yang Xianzhen claimed, or combine to form any so-called "synthesized economic base," still less can they "develop in a balanced and co-ordinated way." Lenin said: "This transition period has to be a period of struggle between dying capitalism and nascent communism - or, in other words, between capitalism which has been defeated but not destroyed and communism which has been born but is still very feeble"
According to Marxism-Leninism, "state power of the socialist type" can only be the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is the concentrated expression of the fundamental interests of the working class and other laboring people, and its economic base can only be "the socialist economic base, that is,... socialist relations of production" (“On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People”). The capitalist economy is a paradise where the bourgeois amass fortunes, while for the proletariat and other laboring people it is a hell on earth. It is the economic base of the bourgeois dictatorship. Capitalist economy and proletarian dictatorship are as incompatible with each other as fire with water.
Yang Xianzhen's argument, "fitting the character of China's productive forces," boiled down to this: Because of its backward productive forces, China was destined to develop only capitalism and build a capitalist economic base; it should not, nor could it, carry out socialist revolution and build a socialist economic base. It must then set up a bourgeois dictatorship to serve a capitalist economic base; it should not, and could not, institute proletarian dictatorship. This is the thoroughly revisionist "theory of productive forces."
Did not Liu Shaoqi & Co., taking as the point of departure their reactionary "theory of productive forces," openly declare that they would work along with the capitalists for several decades and then go in for socialism "when China's industrial production shows a surplus"? [He] also shouted: "In contemporary China the capitalist system of exploitation is progressive," "it has a role to play in industrially backward China," etc. This was what lay at the bottom of Yang Xianzhen's "synthesization" and "balanced development." His preaching of "synthesized economic base," when stripped of all its fancy wrappings, was nothing but an attempt to build China on a capitalist economic base.
The "theory of productive forces" is an international revisionist trend that makes a fetish of spontaneity. It absurdly exaggerates the decisive role of productive forces, which it reduces to means of production plus techniques. It completely negates the factor of man and denies the effect of revolution on the development of production, of production relations on productive forces and of the superstructure on the economic base. Such a fallacy would make it appear as if social development were merely the natural outcome of the development of productive forces, that when the productive forces are highly developed a new society would naturally appear, that if the productive forces are not yet highly developed it would be futile for the proletariat consciously to carry out socialist revolution. This fallacy, substituting vulgar evolutionism for revolutionary dialectics, and class conciliation for class struggle, opposes the proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship. It is historical idealism unalloyed.
Their theory of "synthesized economic base" having gone up in smoke, Liu Shaoqi and other swindlers changed their tactics, now claiming that China's principal internal contradiction was "the contradiction between the advanced socialist system and the backward social productive forces." This so-called "contradiction" was only another expression of the reactionary "theory of productive forces" in the new circumstances.... Before socialist transformation, these swindlers tried by every means to protect the capitalist relations of production under the pretext that China's production level was low. After socialist transformation, using the same pretext, they insidiously plotted against the socialist system and against continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In socialist society... the development of the productive forces runs ahead of the relations of production. Therefore, the "contradiction between the advanced socialist system and the backward social productive forces" does not exist.
Their fabrication of this "principal contradiction" was to create a "basis" for their fallacy of "the dying out of class struggle" in order to negate Chairman Mao's Marxist-Leninist scientific thesis that the principal internal contradiction in China is "the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie," deny the existence of contradictions, classes and class struggle in socialist society, oppose continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, overthrow the proletarian dictatorship, and restore capitalism.
[They] mouthed such nonsense as "production can promote revolution," etc., trying to make a last-ditch struggle.
Momentous Struggle On The Question Of The Identity Between Thinking And Being
The dialectical-materialist conception of the identity between thinking and being holds that thinking and being are interconnected and can transform themselves into each other on the basis of practice.
At crucial junctures in China's socialist revolution and construction, Yang Xianzhen would come out with the reactionary statement that "there is no identity between thinking and being" to resist the active and revolutionary theory of reflection, and oppose putting Mao Zedong Thought in command and launching revolutionary mass movements.
[The] struggle incited by Yang Xianzhen was a completely premeditated scheme to reverse correct decisions and restore capitalism.
Yang Xianzhen never tired of talking about "being is primary, thinking is secondary," as though he was adhering to materialism. But this was unmitigated hypocrisy. Marxists not only acknowledge the objective world but, more important, they actively change it in accordance with its laws.
Chairman Mao has taught us: "Often, correct knowledge can be arrived at only after many repetitions of the process leading from matter to consciousness and then back to matter, that is, leading from practice to knowledge and then back to practice" (Where Do Correct Ideas Come From?). A process is necessary for the leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom in man's cognition of the objective world. Only after repeated practice can people advance from inexperience to experience, from ignorance to knowledge and from incomplete knowledge to relatively complete knowledge. Owing to various limitations, certain shortcomings and mistakes are hardly avoidable in the process of cognition and practice, and so is the failure for the subjective to fully accord with the objective. How can these be called "idealist"? Especially in such great revolutionary mass movements involving hundreds of millions of people as the great leap forward and the people's commune, we can only acquire experience step by step in the course of practice, gradually deepen our knowledge of the essence of things and expose and resolve the contradictions that arise as we go forward.
In exposing Bernstein's revisionism, Lenin said: "In the sphere of philosophy revisionism followed in the wake of bourgeois professorial 'science.' The professors went 'back to Kant' - and revisionism dragged along after the neo-Kantians" (Marxism and Revisionism). Bernstein made "amendments" to the Marxist theory of knowledge by deliberately distorting the identity between thinking and being into an idealist theory that "thinking and being are the same." He raved that materialism and idealism were alike and, though they proceeded from different viewpoints, both simply presumed that thinking and being were the same. It was by such rotten methods that Bernstein completely denied the identity between thinking and being. What Yang Xianzhen tried to smuggle in was simply Bernstein's trash. The only difference was that while Bernstein openly declared that he firmly supported Kant's viewpoint in principle, Yang Xianzhen sought to cover this up and did not dare say so in so many words.
The Theory Of "Combine Two Into One" Is A Reactionary Philosophy For Restoring Capitalism
The concept of "one divides into two" that Chairman Mao put forward profoundly and concisely summarizes the law of the unity of opposites and grasps the heart of materialist dialectics.
According to the concept "one divides into two", there are contradictions in everything. The two aspects of a contradiction depend on and struggle with each other, and this determines the life of all things. The natural world, society and man's thinking, far from "combining two into one," are full of contradictions and struggles. Without contradiction, there would not be the natural world, society, and man's thinking; nothing would exist. Contradictions are present in all processes of things and permeate all processes from beginning to end, and it is this that promotes the development of things. The constant emerging and resolving of contradictions - this is the universal law of the development of things.
Even in a communist society, there will be contradictions and struggles between the new and the old, the advanced and the backward, and right and wrong. Just as Chairman Mao has pointed out, "Wherever there are groups of people - that is, everywhere apart from uninhabited deserts - they are invariably divided into left, center and right. Ten thousand years from now this will still be so." Only by adhering to this concept and applying it to guide revolutionary practice can we be thorough-going dialectical materialists. To deny the concept of "one divides into two" means to deny the universality of contradiction and to betray materialist dialectics and, politically, this inevitably leads to betrayal of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Materialist dialectics holds that the nature of a thing is the contradictoriness within the thing and its separability. Engels pointed out: "Dialectics has proved from the results of our experience of nature so far that all polar opposites in general are determined by the mutual action af the two opposite poles on each other, that the separation and opposition of these poles exist only within their mutual connection and union, and, conversely, that their union exists only in their separation and their mutual connection only in their opposition" (Dialectics of Nature). That is to say, we cannot talk about the links between the two opposite aspects apart from their struggle and separability. The struggle of the opposite aspects inevitably leads to the breaking up of their interconnection, to the disintegration of the entity, and to change in the nature of the thing. Therefore, the interconnection between the opposite aspects is conditional and relative while their separability is unconditional and absolute.
In the course of the development of our Party, there emerged the "Left" and Right opportunist lines of the renegades Chen Duxiu and Wang Ming, and Liu Shaoqi's counter-revolutionary revisionist line. Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line has won great victories precisely through struggles against these erroneous lines. Therefore, revolutionary "separation" is not a bad but a good thing. It helps raise the people's ideological consciousness, enhances the unity of the revolutionary people, promotes the development of the proletarian revolutionary cause, and impels society forward. Yang Xianzhen did not say a word about the struggle of opposites and their transformation into each other. He completely denied the separability of a thing, describing the interdependence of the two opposite aspects on each other for their existence as "links that cannot be separated." But in fact such dead and rigid links free from contradictions and transformation are non-existent.
The contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is, in essence, antagonistic and irreconcilable, and can be resolved only by socialist revolution. As Chairman Mao pointed out in 1959, in the period of socialist revolution the life-and-death struggle between the two big opposing classes - the proletariat and the bourgeoisie - "will continue... for at least twenty years and possibly half a century. In short, the struggle will not cease until classes die out completely." In a sense, by steadfastly continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the proletariat separates completely from the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes. In the life-and-death struggle between these two classes, how can we "combine two into one"? If we should "combine two into one" with regard to the bourgeoisie, forget classes and class struggle and forget the dictatorship of the proletariat, "then it would not be long, perhaps only several years or a decade, or several decades at most, before a counter-revolutionary restoration on a national scale would inevitably occur, the Marxist-Leninist party would undoubtedly become a revisionist party, a fascist party, and the whole of China would change its color. Comrades, please think it over. What a dangerous situation this would be!" That Yang Xianzhen spared no effort to preach that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie should "combine" and not "separate" was precisely for the purpose of realizing the counter-revolutionary plot of restoring capitalism.
The core of the theory "combine two into one" lies in merging contradictions, liquidating struggle, opposing revolution, "combining" the proletariat with the bourgeoisie, "combining" Marxism with revisionism, "combining" socialism with imperialism and social-imperialism. This out-and-out reactionary bourgeois idealist and metaphysical world outlook is diametrically opposed to the world outlook of "one divides into two".
Was the reactionary philosophy "combine two into one" a creation by the renegades Liu Shaoqi, Yang Xianzhen and their ilk? No! It was nothing but a variant, under new historical conditions, of the theory of "conciliation of contradictions" of the old-line opportunists and revisionists.
Yang Xianzhen repeatedly said that the identity of a contradiction consisted of "common points" and "common things." He distorted Lenin's thesis on the identity of contradiction, alleging that "the identity in the sphere of dialectics" meant "seeking common needs."
When the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production reached a high tide in China in 1956, he came out sermonizing that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie "will both benefit if they come together, and will both suffer if they separate." This was of the same mold as the fallacies advocated by Liu Shaoqi, such as that the bourgeoisie's "exploitation is a merit." This fully shows that they are a gang of faithful agents of the bourgeoisie.
Yang Xianzhen and company also alleged that "analysis means 'one divides into two' while synthesis means 'combine two into one.' This is not merely a question of their ignorance of Marxist philosophy; their real purpose was to cut asunder the dialectical relation between analysis and synthesis and to substitute reactionary metaphysics for materialist dialectics.
The process of summing up our experience is also one of analysis and synthesis. By undertaking various kinds of struggles in social practice, men have accumulated rich experiences, some successful and some not. In summing up experience, it is necessary to distinguish the right from the wrong, affirm what is correct and negate what is wrong. This means, under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, reconstructing the rich data of perception obtained from practice, "discarding the dross and selecting the essential, eliminating the false and retaining the true, proceeding from the one to the other and from the outside to the inside," raising perceptual knowledge to the level of rational knowledge and grasping the inherent laws of a thing. The movement of opposites - one divides into two - runs throughout this process. With the experience summed up in this way, we are able to uphold the truth and correct our mistakes, "popularize our successful experience and draw the lessons from our mistakes."
The historical experience of the international communist movement has repeatedly proved that if a Marxist-Leninist political party does not observe, analyze and handle problems from the viewpoint of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, it will commit mistakes and degenerate politically. Since modern revisionism has thoroughly betrayed dialectical materialism and historical materialism and thoroughly betrayed the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, it has inevitably gone further and further down the road of revisionism and degenerated into social-imperialism.
The Fighting Task Confronting Workers In Philosophy And The Social Sciences
Man's correct ideas come only from social practice. Man's social being determines his consciousness. Once grasped by the masses, the correct ideas which a progressive class represents become a material force capable of changing society and the world. The movement from the material to the mental and then back from the mental to the material, i.e., the movement from practice to knowledge and from knowledge back to practice, has to be repeated many times before correct knowledge takes shape.
How can certain people who had previously been supporters of revolutionary scientific socialism degenerate into counter-revolutionary, anti-scientific revisionists? Yet it is not at all strange. Everything tends to divide itself in two. Theories are no exception, and they also tend to divide. Wherever there is a revolutionary, scientific doctrine, its antithesis, a counter-revolutionary, anti-scientific doctrine, is bound to arise in the course of the development of that doctrine.
In the past, some comrades one-sidedly emphasized the "moral and political unity" of socialist society and failed to see that contradictions, classes and class struggle continue to exist in it, and that the struggle against bourgeois ideology within socialist society remains a main task of the dictatorship of the proletariat for a long period after the seizure of power. They only recognized solidarity and unity and denied the existence of internal contradictions in socialist society and the fact that contradictions are the motive force of social progress. They thus denied the universality of contradiction and did away with dialectics, and as a result the “theory of the absence of conflict” spread far and wide. The mistakes in their understanding of contradictions in socialist society paved the way for the modern revisionists of today.
Contradictions and the struggles to resolve them are always the motive force that pushes human society forward.
All conservatives and opportunists, all those who do not desire but fear revolution, dread change and evade or deny contradictions. On the contrary, all revolutionaries who take upon themselves the transformation of the world desire change, courageously face contradictions and resolve them by revolutionary means.