On Summing Up Experience


THE great proletarian cultural revolution has won great and decisive victory. A revolutionary mass movement for the transformation of all parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base is developing in depth on all fronts. A tide of anger to smash the Soviet revisionist renegade clique’s rabid aggressive ambitions has swept the cities and countryside throughout our motherland. A tremendous upsurge has emerged in all fields in grasping revolution and promoting production and other work and preparedness against war to greet the Party’s Ninth National Congress with concrete actions. The revolution is advancing. The situation is excellent. The masses of the people are fired with enthusiasm.

In these circumstances, an important task facing the leading cadres at all levels of the Party, the government and the army is to use Mao Tse-tung’s thought to sum up experience conscientiously and further remould their own world outlook so as to give still better leadership to the revolutionary masses in accomplishing the great historical tasks of struggle-criticism-transformation. Chairman Mao teaches us: “A leader’s duty is not only to point out the orientation of the struggle and lay down its tasks, he must also sum up concrete experience and spread it rapidly among the masses so that what is correct will be promoted and what is wrong will not be repeated.”

This includes two aspects: to sum up in a penetrating way the fundamental experience of the proletarian revolutionary movement in a given historical period and to sum up the concrete experience of the current struggles in good time. In both aspects, Chairman Mao has set a brilliant example for us. For the past two years and more, in the great proletarian cultural revolution of unprecedented breadth and depth, in the storms which smashed the bourgeois headquarters headed by the renegade, traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi and in the fierce and extremely complex class struggle that has touched people to their innermost being, the working class, the poor and lower-middle peasants and other revolutionary people have been greatly tempered and have accumulated very rich and lively experience.

This includes the positive experience of how to boldly arouse the masses to make revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and the negative experience drawn from the mistakes made by some people. Both are valuable and profound and should always be remembered. Chairman Mao highly values the creations and wisdom of the masses. He makes theoretical and scientific generalization and summing up of their advanced experience which is of fundamental and universal significance, calls timely attention to the erroneous Right or extreme “Left”‘ ideological trends that must be opposed and guarded against in the movement, constantly educates the cadres and continually gives new instructions. All this is then translated back into the revolutionary practice of the masses.

In this way, the resistance and sabotage of the class enemy are defeated and new victories are won one after another. At the same time, Chairman Mao personally grasps the investigation and study of typical examples and discovers, sums up and spreads in good time the advanced experience which represents the direction of development in each stage of the movement so as to guide it forward continuously. Chairman Mao’s theory on continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the line and policies he has formulated, the series of his latest instructions and the typical experiences he has recommended constitute a creative development of Marxism-Leninism and the living soul of the vigorous great proletarian cultural revolution.

They have illuminated the historical course of this revolution. Chairman Mao has recently once again taught us; “It is necessary lo sum up experience conscientiously.” “When one goes to a unit to get to know the situation there, one must become acquainted with the whole process of the movement — its inception, its development and its present state, how the masses have acted and how the leadership has acted, what contradictions and struggles have emerged and what changes have occurred in these contradictions, and what progress people have made in their knowledge — so as to find out its laws.”

Leading comrades at all levels must pay serious attention to this instruction of Chairman Mao’s, and study it and carry it out conscientiously. Chairman Mao teaches us that we must be “conscientious.” This means that we must direct our eyes downward and really become pupils of the masses. In the situation of victory, leading cadres should particularly be modest and prudent and guard against arrogance and rashness. They should listen attentively to the different opinions raised by the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers and bring into full play the revolutionary vigor of the proletariat and its fine style of modestly learning from the masses. All this must not be neglected. Chairman Mao teaches that we should become acquainted with “the whole process” of the movement. This is most important.

Only by knowing the whole process of the movement can we grasp its actual conditions in an all-round way; only thus can we understand the historical process of how the proletariat has struggled against the bourgeoisie and its agents in the Party and won victory in the great proletarian cultural revolution; only thus can we see what tricks the enemy of the proletariat has played under different circumstances and how we have exposed the enemy’s intrigues, what changes have taken place in this process on the part of the enemy and ourselves and of the different classes and different political forces, what changes have taken place among the leadership and the masses and what reversals there have been; only thus can we make a fairly appropriate analysis of the contradictions among the masses and find out the problems to be solved at present or in the future in the course of struggle-criticism-transformation and the methods to solve them.

In a word, only in this way can we deeply understand the objective laws of making revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and accomplish what Chairman Mao has taught in the following instruction: “We should proceed from the actual conditions inside and outside the country, the province, county or district, and derive from them, as our guide to action, laws which are inherent in them and not imaginary, that is, we should find the internal relations of the events occurring around us.” The great proletarian cultural revolution is a great political revolution carried out under the conditions of socialism by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes. It is a great struggle in which the revisionist faction within the Party has been smashed by the proletarian revolutionaries and hundreds of millions of the revolutionary people of China, who uphold Marxism, Leninism, Mao Tse-tung’s thought.

This great political revolution is by no means accidental. It is the inevitable outcome of the sharp, repeated struggles existing in socialist society between the two classes — the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between the two roads — the socialist road and the capitalist road, and between the two lines — the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao and the bourgeois reactionary line represented by Liu Shao-chi. But many of us were not sufficiently prepared ideologically for the socialist revolution and often failed to understand many of Chairman Mao’s instructions of extremely profound significance and his wise predictions, or failed to understand them deeply and thoroughly at the time they were given.

We came to understand them better only when the development of the revolutionary mass movement had deeply touched us to our innermost being and enabled us to gain experience or draw lessons of our own. In order to raise the level of cur understanding, we must study and sum up the historical experience of the struggle between the two classes, the two roads and the two lines, look into all the stages of development of the revolutionary mass movement and study their characteristics, review how in the past two years and more the masses have carried out Chairman Mao’s instructions, what we thought and did. which of our thoughts and actions conform to Chairman Mao’s instructions and are correct and which do not conform to Chairman Mao’s instructions and are wrong, and thus sum up experiences, draw lessens and find out the reasons.

Only when we sum up the experience in the great proletarian cultural revolution in this way can we absorb it deeply. Chairman Mao’s instruction on the necessity of understanding the process of history is also very important for us in arriving at a profound understanding of the nature of U.S. imperialism, Soviet revisionism and all reactionaries in the world. “What about the Kuomintang? Look at its past, and you can tell its present; look at its past and present, and you can tell its future.” Just look at the historical experience of the Chinese people in their struggle against imperialism, just look at how tsarist Russia, the forefather of Soviet revisionism, brutally invaded and occupied vast expanses of China’s territory, just look at how many crimes the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has committed in its vain attempt to occupy still more of Chinese territory since its assumption of power, and just look at how many fascist theories, such as the so-called theory of “‘international dictatorship” and the theory of “limited sovereignty,” the Soviet revisionist renegade clique, this handful of fascists, has recently dished up to justify its sending aggressor troops into the territory of other countries at will in a vain attempt to realize its rabid ambition to redivide the world through Soviet-U.S. collusion, and you can tell that the recent armed provocations by the Soviet revisionists are by no means accidental and that the nature of Soviet revisionist social-imperialism, like that of U.S. imperialism, will never change.

The great proletarian cultural revolution has completely overthrown Liu Shao-chi and company, the handful of agents of U.S. imperialism and Soviet revisionism, and has thus totally shattered the Soviet revisionists’ dream of converting China into a colony of Soviet revisionist social-imperialism by “peaceful” means. In these circumstances, the Soviet revisionists have vainly resorted to military adventure in a desperate struggle. We must further expose and repudiate the fascist theories of Soviet modern revisionism. We must maintain high vigilance and deal relentless blows at the aggressive ambitions of the Soviet revisionist renegade clique. With regard to the Soviet revisionists’ aggressor troops who dare to invade our country, we will resolutely act in the way pointed out by Chairman Mao for dealing with all reactionaries in the world: “If they fight, we will wipe them out completely. This is the way things are: if they attack and we wipe them out. they will have that satisfaction; wipe out some, some satisfaction; wipe out more, more satisfaction; wipe out the whole lot, complete satisfaction.”

This is a historical lesson. Class struggle is an objective reality. Correct ideas invariably exist in contrast with erroneous ideas and develop in the struggle against them. The struggle between adherence to Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line and violation of this line, the struggle between the proletarian world outlook and the bourgeois world outlook, and the struggle between correct conceptions and erroneous ones — these contradictions always exist. It is also necessary to analyse the process of the movement and sum up experience in good time in order to achieve unity of thinking in regard to the ideological contradictions of one kind or another now existing in leading groups at various levels and among the revolutionary masses. That is to say, we must use Mao Tse-tung’s thought to examine the work we have done, make an all-round analysis of the contradictions arising in the course of development, distinguish between right and wrong, conscientiously carry out criticism and self-criticism, especially self-criticism, and really uphold and support whatever conforms to Mao Tse-tung’s thought and repudiate and overcome whatever goes against Mao Tse-tung’s thought.

By summing up experience, we can discern the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and the contradictions among the people, draw a clear distinction between these two types of contradictions, make an appropriate analysis — which by and large conforms to the actual situation — of what was right and what was wrong about each of us and his achievements and shortcomings in the work we have done, and promote the correct ideas and overcome the erroneous ones. This will enable us to strengthen our unity against the enemy on the principled basis of Mao Tse-tung’s thought.

The bad habit of being arrogant and conceited, priding oneself on one’s “merits.” divorcing oneself from the masses and spurning opinions different from one’s own, the bad practice of double-dealers who say one thing while doing another, and the bad ideas of putting self-interest before everything and proceeding in all cases from egoism — these are manifestations of the bourgeois world outlook and are a formidable enemy in the way of a correct summing up of experience and, therefore, must be criticized and repudiated. Chairman Mao teaches us that we must “carefully seek out the advanced experience of the musses in a locality, sum it up and popularize it.”

There are relatively advanced units everywhere. We should make deepgoing, not superficial, investigation and study, gain first-hand material, “dissect one or several sparrows” conscientiously and set up good examples of carrying out Chairman Mao’s latest instructions. Typical advanced experience is of universal significance and is very convincing. At present, leading comrades of the various central departments and those at the provincial, regional and county levels should conscientiously do a good job of conducting investigations of typical examples in the struggle-criticism-transformation on the industrial and agricultural fronts and in the educational revolution and report in good time the findings and other material to the Party’s Central Committee.

Only with the whole situation in mind and typical examples in hands can we have the initiative in leading the movement. Chairman Mao incisively points out: “In any society in which classes exist class struggle will never end. In classless society the struggle between the new and the old and between truth and falsehood will never end. In the fields of the struggle for production and scientific experiment, mankind makes constant progress and nature undergoes constant change; they never remain at the same level. Therefore, man has constantly lo sum up experience and go on discovering, inventing, creating and advancing. Ideas of stagnation, pessimism, inertia and complacency are all wrong.”

This far-sighted scientific thesis of Chairman Mao’s, which generalizes the history of human society and the history of nature, penetratingly explains the importance of summing up revolutionary experience for guiding revolutionary practice. In the practice of the great proletarian cultural revolution which is so great, so rich in content and so deep-going, and at a time when we are greeting the forthcoming Ninth National Congress of the Party with concrete actions, comrades of the whole Party and the whole army and revolutionary cadres and revolutionary masses throughout the country should all conscientiously use Mao Tse-tung’s thought to sum up experience in revolutionary struggle, including the experience of the great proletarian cultural revolution over the past few years, the historical experience of the struggle between the two lines and the fresh experience of the current struggle-criticism-transformation movement.

By so doing, we will certainly be able to bring into full play the revolutionary might of Mao Tse-tung’s thought in changing the subjective world and the objective world and accomplish the great historical tasks of struggle-criticism-transformation. Under the leadership of the proletarian headquarters with Chairman Mao as its leader and Vice-Chairman Lin as its deputy leader, we will defeat all sabotage by the class enemies at home and abroad, carry the great struggle against imperialism, modern revisionism and all reaction through to the end and advance vigorously to win new victories in the socialist revolution and socialist construction.

Editorial of “Hongqi,” Nos. 3-4, 1969

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