Working Class Occupying and Transforming the Superstructure-1976


Liang Hsiao September 8, 1976

[“The working class must exercise leadership in everything.” On July 27, 1968, in response to this great call from Chairman Mao, a Mao Tse-tung Thought Propaganda Team composed of outstanding workers in Peking marched into Tsinghua University, a famous institute of higher learning in China. Following this, other Mao Tse-tung Thought propaganda teams formed by workers entered the other universities, middle and primary schools, and a number of cultural, health, scientific and technological, physical culture and sports organizations in the capital and other parts of the country.

The Chinese working class had thus entered the political stage of struggle- criticism-transformation of the superstructure. This means waging struggles to overthrow those persons in authority in the Party taking the capitalist road, criticizing the reactionary bourgeois academic “authorities” and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes, and transforming education, literature and art and all other fields of the superstructure not in harmony with the socialist economic base— all aimed at consolidating and developing the socialist system. Following is a slightly abridged translation of an article that was published in “People’s Daily,” dealing with the acute struggle between occupation and counter-occupation, transformation and counter-transformation. The subheads are ours.—Ed. of Peking Review,.]

Eight years ago when the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was at a high tide, the Chinese working class, acting on Chairman Mao’s instruction and guided by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought, entered the cultural and educational fields which had long been dominated by exploiting classes. This opened up a new chapter of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Under the guidance of Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line, the working class led the revolutionary teachers and students in criticizing the bourgeoisie and revisionism and in destroying the old and fostering the new. They have since scored one victory after another.


Great Mission of the Working Class

Engels pointed out: “Every genuine revolution is a social one, in which a new class is brought to the ruling position and enabled to reorganize society according to its own image.” (Refugee Literature.) The great historical mission of the proletariat is to transform according to its own image the entire society, including the old superstructure. Since the bourgeoisie is right in the Communist Party in the historical period of socialism, in the course of transforming the entire superstructure, therefore, the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie inside the Party thus becomes the focus of the struggle between the two classes, the two roads and the two lines. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “Without struggle, there is no progress.”

In reviewing the militant course we have travelled in the last eight years and in summing up the historical experience prior to the Great Cultural Revolution, we find that although the struggle is extremely complex in content and there is a constant change in its form, it is mainly a struggle against the capitalist-roaders. The capitalist-roaders stand for the old capitalist relations of production and defend all decadent ideas and culture. Before the working class occupied the cultural, educational and other fields of the superstructures the main opposition to the transformation of the superstructure according to the image of the proletariat came first and foremost from the bourgeoisie inside the Party. Why was it that the revolution in education taking place in 1958, the year of the big leap forward in socialist construction, was suppressed? Why was it that bourgeois intellectuals had long dominated our schools and cultural and educational fields, and that the working class could not occupy them? The root cause lay with the bourgeoisie side the Party.

Before the Great Cultural Revolution, the bourgeois headquarters of Liu Shao-chi for a period of time not only controlled Party power and the power in many localities, but also planted renegades its sworn followers and capitalist-roaders in leading posts in the cultural and educational fields to control cultural and propaganda work and oppose socialist transformation. After Liu Shao-chi’s downfall, Lin Piao came forward to have a trial of strength with the proletariat. During the Great Cultural Revolution, the working class mounted the stage of struggle-criticism-transformation in the superstructure only after Liu Shao-chi’s bourgeois headquarters had been toppled and the sabotage and interference by Lin Piao and his cohorts done away with.

Capitalist-Roaders Are Commanders of the Force of Restoration

But the struggle did not end there. After the working class has occupied the realm of the superstructure, there still is a fierce struggle between occupation and counter-occupation, transformation and counter transformation, seizure of power and counter-seizure of power before hold its position and carry the transformation through to the end. The bourgeoisie is not reconciled to its defeat. In a vain attempt to seize back its lost hereditary domain, it strikes back at the proletariat with a frenzy ten times greater than before and a hatred grown a hundredfold. The main force in this counter-attack is still the bourgeoisie within the Party.

Intellectuals are concentrated in the cultural and educational fields where the old concepts of the exploiting classes are deep-rooted. This state of affairs must be and can be changed, and the key is: which class exercises the leadership and what line is followed. Experience has proved that the intellectuals trained in the old-type schools can be re-educated and the masses can be mobilized to criticize the traditional concepts of the exploiting classes. It is the bourgeoisie within the Party who are in a position to contend with the proletariat for leadership and change the Party’s line. The capitalist-roaders inside the Party have power and wear the mask of Party members; to the non- Party intellectuals they are members of the Communist Party, and to the rank-and-file Party members they represent the leadership, while before the workers’ propaganda teams they often pass themselves off as “old hands’ and “experts.”

This is particularly so in the case of the chieftains of the revisionist line who, having usurped a considerable portion of power, may dish up a revisionist line in the name of the Party and forcefully push that line through legal organizations. It is quite clear that without the chieftains of the opportunist lines in command and without the capitalist-roaders taking the field themselves, it is not easy for those diehard intellectuals clinging to their reactionary stand to drive the working class out of schools and reverse the general orientation of the revolution in education by themselves. After assuming office, Teng Hsiao- ping hatched a revisionist programme and stirred up the Right deviationist wind to reverse correct verdicts. What he did clearly illustrated the outstanding role of the bourgeoisie within the Party in restorationist activities.

Refuting Teng Hsiao-ping

In order to throw the workers out of the schools Teng Hsiao-ping did his utmost to vilify the excellent situation in the realm of the superstructure and attacked the educational revolution, alleging that there was a “crisis” in the educational departments. Instigated and abetted by him, a Right deviationist wind in an attempt to reverse correct verdicts was whipped up in the educational circles. He and his followers cried: “The working class has made a mess of education.” This is of course a distortion of facts. Under the leadership of the working class, fundamental changes have taken place in education, and the situation is excellent with a bright future.

The situation in Tsinghua and Peking Universities alone, not to mention the many other advanced units throughout the country, is typical and eloquently illustrates the case. Comrades at both universities have said: “Before the Great Cultural Revolution, the two universities were dominated by bourgeois intellectuals and the leadership was in the grip of capitalist-roaders who pushed a revisionist line in education and relied on the professors to run these institutions; at that time the bourgeoisie exercised dictatorship over the proletariat.

Now the working class exercises leadership over the two universities and is resolutely implementing Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line, leading the teachers, students and staff members in studying Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought conscientiously, grasping class struggle firmly and exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie. The feudal, bourgeois and revisionist strongholds of the past are now being turned into a powerful instrument of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

“In the past,” they have also said, “the students were trained to become members of an elite standing above the labouring people. Today, with Chairman Mao’s policy in education in full implementation, the students are being trained to become labourers with both socialist consciousness and culture and identifying themselves with factory workers and peasants. In the 17 years preceding the Cultural Revolution, none of the 100,000-odd students graduated from the two universities joined the ranks of workers or peasants.

Today, the worker- peasant-soldier students vie with each other to go to the rural or border areas and places where they are needed most, and they consciously restrict bourgeois right and act as promoters in narrowing the gap between worker and peasant, between town and country and between mental and manual labour. By their concrete action, they are doing things that are the very opposite of what was preached by Teng Hsiao-ping who was bent on strengthening and expanding bourgeois right.”

In order to throw the workers out of the schools, Teng Hsiao-ping spread political rumours, instigating intellectuals to oppose working-class leadership; at the same time, he and his followers attacked the workers, propaganda teams stationed in the superstructure, falsely accusing their members of ‘lacking in special knowledge’ and “lacking in enthusiasm.” This is out-and-out slander!

In transforming the superstructure according to the image of the proletariat, it is the workers who are the most enthusiastic and who know the best. In the past few years, members of the workers’ propaganda teams have been working in the forefront of the educational revolution and have acquainted themselves with the content of the revolution and gained rich experience. The capitalist-roaders, however, did everything to oppose the revolution in the superstructure.

Teng Hsiao-ping himself was a big Party tyrant who did not study, knew little about Marxism-Leninism and had no contacts with the masses and the reality. Those capitalist-roaders who entrenched themselves in the fields of culture and education only knew and practised revisionism and were enthusiastic about reversing correct verdicts and staging a comeback. In order to throw the workers out of the schools, Teng Hsiao-ping resorted to despicable means such as instigating people to write letters with framed-up charges, defaming and attacking the workers’ propaganda team stationed in Tsinghua University and directing the spearhead of their attack at our great leader Chairman Mao. Chairman Mao saw through their scheme and said point-blank: “The question involved in Tsinghua is not an isolated question but a reflection of the current two-line struggle.”

He took the opportunity to make a breakthrough on the cultural and educational front and personally initiated and led the great struggle to criticize Teng Hsiao-ping’s counter- revolutionary revisionist line and repulse the Right deviationist attempt at reversing correct verdicts. That Teng Hsiao-ping took a hostile attitude towards working- class leadership and hated to see it occupying the superstructure is not strange.

Chairman Mao has pointed out: “The bureaucrat class on the one hand and the working class together with the poor and lower- middle peasants on the other are two classes sharply antagonistic to each other.” “Those leading cadres who are taking the capitalist road have turned, or are turning, into bourgeois elements sucking the blood of the workers; how can they possibly realize fully the imperative need for socialist revolution? These people are the target of the struggle, the target of the revolution and we must never rely on them in the socialist education movement.”

The proletarian revolution in the superstructure impairs the fundamental interests of the bourgeoisie within the Party, it is therefore bound to meet with its desperate resistance.

The Struggle Goes On

The capitalist-roaders are still taking the capitalist road, and this is a social phenomenon that will last for a long time in the historical period of socialism. After one batch of capitalist-roaders have been overthrown, another batch will emerge. Those who committed the mistake of taking the capitalist road may relapse into the same error. This is particularly so in the cultural and educational circles, not only because bourgeois and revisionist ideological influences in these fields are very strong but because bourgeois right there is deep-seated and there are more fertile soil and more favourable conditions for engendering capitalism, and also because these are important positions of public opinion.

Now that it has lost political power and the means of production, the bourgeoisie tries desperately to keep its hold on ideology, culture and education to contend with the proletariat for the ideological positions and use them as a bridgehead for counter-revolutionary restoration. As the capitalist-roaders are still taking the capitalist road, it is imperative for the proletariat to wage a protracted struggle. ‘The workers’ propaganda teams should stay permanently in the schools and colleges, take part in all the tasks of struggle-criticism-transformation there and will always lead these institutions.”

This important instruction of Chairman Mao’s tells us that throughout the historical period of socialism the working class must occupy the cultural and educational positions and firmly keep the leadership in its own hands. To transform the cultural and educational positions according to the image of the proletariat is more difficult and complicated than to seize political power and change the system of ownership.

Members of the workers’ propaganda teams stationed in the various fields of the superstructure must live up to the expectations of their own class and, accomplish this great historic mission. They must earnestly study the works by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and by Chairman Mao in the course of the struggle and constantly remould their own world outlook. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “The working class remoulds the whole of society in class struggle and in the struggle against nature, and at the same time remoulds itself. It must ceaselessly learn in the course of its work and overcome its shortcomings step by step, and must never stop doing so.” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.)

Not paying attention to ideological remoulding, some members of the working class are also liable to degenerate. After the nationwide victory some cadres with a good family background and tempered in the revolutionary wars were sent to work in the cultural and educational departments. Some of them, however, yielded to bourgeois and revisionist pressure, showed an interest in bourgeois right and went after it, and ended up as capitulationists and capitalist-roaders.

This is a lesson that merits attention. “The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” (Marx and Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party.) We firmly believe that, no matter how complex the struggle is and how tortuous the road ahead, the working class will certainly realize this great call and accomplish the task of transforming culture and education.

Source: Peking Review, Vol. 19, No. 37, September 8, 1976.

Originally published in People’s Daily, September 8, 1976.

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