The Essence of “Theory of Productive Forces” Is to Oppose Proletarian Revolution-1969

THE renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi consistently advocated the reactionary “theory of productive forces.” According to this fallacy, socialist revolution is impossible and the socialist road cannot be taken in any country where capitalism is not highly developed and the productive forces have not reached a high level. Before the seizure of political power by the proletariat, he advocated this theory to forbid the proletariat from rising to make revolution and seizing political power. After the seizure of power, he raised it to oppose socialist transformation in a futile effort to lead China on to the road of capitalism. When the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production was completed in the main, he continued to advocate this theory in a clandestine attempt to restore capitalism.

Practice is the criterion for testing truth. The great victories of China’s new-democratic revolution, socialist revolution and socialist construction won under the leadership of our great leader Chairman Mao have proclaimed the bankruptcy of the “theory of productive forces” peddled by Liu Shao-chi. Of course, the change in the relations of production is caused by the definite development of productive forces. But enormous development of productive forces always takes place in the wake of a change in the relations of production. Historical experience has proved that only by first creating revolutionary public opinion and seizing political power, and then changing the relations of production, is it possible to greatly develop the productive forces. This is general law of social development.

Opposing Proletarian Seizure of Political Power
Old China was a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country in which the productive forces were at a very level and had long stagnated. This resulted mainly from cruel oppression and exploitation by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism. When we have political power we have everything. The decadent and backward relations of production could be fundamentally changed and the productive forces greatly developed only when the masses were armed with Mao Tsetung Thought and when the proletariat (through the Communist Party) led the masses (mainly the peasant masses) in carrying out the revolution, i.e., the new-democratic revolution, against the three main enemies — imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism — to seize political power throughout the country and, following its victory, shifting over to the socialist revolution without letting up.

As far back as the early years of China’s new-democratic revolution, however, Liu Shao-chi, following in Chen Tu-hsiu’s footsteps, vigorously preached the “theory of productive forces” to oppose the proletariat making revolution and seizing political power. Using the pretext that China was industrially backward and the level of its productive forces was very low, he slanderously described the Chinese proletariat as “infantile” and “seriously lumpen,” alleging that the seizure of power by the proletariat was “a thing of the distant future,” and that it was utterly “unnecessary to waste much breath discussing it.”

To deny the possibility and necessity of seizure of power by the proletariat on the pretext that the level of the productive forces is low is an outright fallacy advocated with an ulterior motive behind it. The question of whether the proletariat is able to seize political power is absolutely not determined by the level of the productive forces, but objectively by whether there is a revolutionary situation, and subjectively by whether there is a Communist Party armed with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, which correctly leads the broad revolutionary masses in a courageous struggle to seize political power. The contradiction between the three main enemies and the Chinese people was extremely acute in old China. The proletariat and the broad masses of peasants were subjected to oppression, the severity and cruelty of which were rare in other countries. They urgently wanted revolution.

Though the proletariat was small in number, it had natural ties with the impoverished peasants in their hundreds of millions with whom it could form a close alliance. A revolutionary situation existed in China. Provided the Communist Party of China was armed with Mao Tsetung Thought, it certainly could lead the revolutionary masses in defeating the enemies, step by step,and finally seizing political power throughout the country. The great victory of the Chinese revolution has fully proved this point.

Liu Shao-chi’s vicious intent in painstakingly advocating the “theory of productive forces” was that the proletariat had to endure oppression and exploitation by the three main enemies, but could not lift a finger against old China’s reactionary and decadent political-economic system.

While affirming that the productive forces and the economic base in general play the principal and decisive role in relation to production relations and the superstructure, our great leader Chairman Mao stresses: “When it is impossible for the productive forces to develop without a change in the relations of production, then the change in the relations of production plays the principal and decisive role,” and “when the superstructure (politics, culture, etc.) obstructs the development of the economic base, political and cultural changes become principal and decisive.” The “theory of productive forces” hawked by Liu Shao-chi one-sidedly describes the progress of society as the natural outcome of the development of the productive forces, chiefly the instruments of production.

It completely denies that, under certain conditions, the superstructure and the relations of production play the principal and decisive role in relation to the economic base and the productive forces; it also denies that the proletariat’s consciously making revolution under the guidance of revolutionary theory, seizing political power and changing the relations of production play the decisive role in greatly developing the productive forces and pushing social development ahead. It categorically denies that “the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history” and that “revolutions are the locomotives of history.” It uses mechanical materialism to replace dialectical materialism, and vulgar evolutionism to oppose revolutionary dialectics. The “theory of productive forces” is an out-and-out counter-revolutionary fallacy.

Clearing the Way for Developing Capitalism
The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 marked the basic conclusion of the new-democratic revolution and the beginning of the socialist revolution. Firmly responding to Chairman Mao’s call to “build China into a great socialist state,” the working class and other labouring people were determined to go right into the socialist revolution without stopping. It was precisely at this historical juncture, however, that Liu Shao-chi frantically rushed forth to oppose the socialist road and loudly advocate the capitalist road. His “theoretical” basis remained the counter-revolutionary “theory of productive forces.”

Liu Shao-chi repeatedly clamoured: “The question of socialism is a matter for the future. It is too early to raise it now.” He also babbled that “capitalism in China today is still in its youth and it is high time to give full play to its historical and positive role and let it make its contribution” and that “the capitalists should exist and develop for decades” without restriction. He insisted that failure to do so would “hinder the raising of productive forces” and was therefore “reactionary.” His allegation that agricultural co-operation before mechanization was a “reactionary Utopian concept of agrarian socialism” was a slander. He beat the drum for the development of a rich-peasant economy, and made a big noise that even if a rich peasant hired “one hundred” farm labourers, he “should be protected from any infringement.” This long-standing counter-revolutionary had become so cynical that he confused right and wrong and stood truth upside down.

The allegation that New China had to depend on capitalism to develop the productive forces was the outright yapping of bourgeois lap-dogs.

Though the Chinese national bourgeoisie was not the target of the democratic revolution, it was, in Marx’s words, “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt,” and it had all along brutally exploited the proletariat. It was very weak politically and economically, and maintained connections with imperialism and feudalism by numerous ties. The Chinese national bourgeoisie, which came on the scene very late and “unpropitiously,” grew senile very much before its time. At a time when the world had long entered “an era in which capitalism is unquestionably dying and socialism is unquestionably prospering,” and when the proletariat had seized political power in New China, the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie became the principal contradiction at home. If the policy of utilization, restriction and transformation had not been carried out with regard to capitalist industry and commerce, and if capitalist industry and commerce had been allowed unlimited expansion as Liu Shao-chi had preached, the productive forces could not be greatly developed and, furthermore, the political power already seized by the proletariat would change colour.

The assertion that the building of socialism was “Utopian” and “reactionary” was exactly the language of renegades to the proletariat.

The great Lenin pointed out long ago that whether the bourgeois democratic revolution, following its victory, would change into the socialist revolution without let-up depended on “the degree of preparedness of the proletariat and the degree of its unity with the poor peasants.” The seizure of political power by the working class following the founding of the People’s Republic of China was the most important political preparedness; the confiscation of bureaucrat-capital, which “will enable the people’s republic to control the economic lifelines of the country and will enable the state-owned economy to become the leading sector of the entire national economy,” was the most important economic preparedness. The worker-peasant alliance in China became very powerful and consolidated after the protracted struggle in the democratic revolution. The working class and the poor and lower-middle peasants “have a potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism” because they suffered bitter exploitation in the old society. Right after the Land Reform, the poor and lower-middle peasants urgently wanted to get organized and take the road of agricultural co-operation. Only thus could a new polarization in the Chinese countryside be averted and the mechanization of agriculture be gradually achieved. Preliminary but successful experience had been gained in promoting mutual help and co-operation in the old Liberated Areas among individual peasants who were guided by Chairman Mao’s great call “Get organized.” Guided by Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line after the founding of New China, the Chinese Communist Party led the worker and peasant masses in carrying out the socialist transformation of the national economy through proper terms and measures.

This represented the general trend and the aspirations of the people and it fully conformed with the objective law of development. Only by doing so could the enthusiasm of the workers and peasants in their hundreds of millions for revolution and production be brought into full play and the productive forces be developed enormously.

Liu Shao-chi’s aim in so fanatically peddling the “theory of productive forces” was to urge the working class and all other labouring people to respectfully hand over the fruits of their victory in revolution to the bourgeoisie. If this scheme had succeeded, the workers and peasants in their hundreds of millions would have been once again thrown into the abyss of misery.

The great leader Chairman Mao pointed out long ago: It was “sheer fantasy” to establish in China a capitalist society under bourgeois dictatorship after the victory of the new-democratic revolution. Because of its extreme weakness, the Chinese national bourgeoisie had to capitulate to imperialism if it attempted to oppose socialism. To put it bluntly, Liu Shao-chi’s reactionary programme for developing capitalism was impossible for China, as Chairman Mao had taught us: “In fact this road is impossible, and in fact, therefore, they are ready to capitulate to imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism.” The “theory of productive forces” preached by Liu Shao-chi not only showed that he was the chief representative of the bourgeoisie, but exposed his true features as the running dog of imperialism.

Smokescreen for Restoring Capitalism
Under the wise leadership of our great leader Chairman Mao, China had by 1956 basically completed the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means production and this greatly promoted the development of the productive forces. However, there is contradiction as well as harmony between the relations of production and the productive forces and between superstructure and the economic base. Class struggle is far from over and the question of political power remains the focus of the struggle. Chairman Mao teaches: “Socialist society covers a considerably long historical period. In the historical period of socialism, there are still classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, and there is the danger of capitalist restoration.” In these circumstances, “by itself the socialist revolution on the economic front (in the ownership of the means of production) is insufficient and cannot be consolidated. There must also be a thoroughgoing socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts.” This is an epoch-making development of Marxism-Leninism, an important component part of Chairman Mao’s great theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and a beacon light guiding the proletariat and the revolutionary people to continue the revolution.

It was precisely at this crucial moment of whether the socialist revolution could be carried forward that Liu Shao-chi came out for the painstaking creation of counter-revolutionary public opinion. He clamoured everywhere: “In our country, the question of which will win out, socialism or capitalism, has now been settled,” “class struggle is over” and “now, the main task of the Chinese people and our Party is to develop the productive forces as rapidly as possible.” All these fallacies were merely a new form of the “theory of productive forces.”

According to his absurd theory, the relations of production were no longer in contradiction with the productive forces, and the socialist revolution on the economic front had ended; the superstructure was no longer in contradiction with the economic base, and socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts was entirely unnecessary; classes were eliminated, the bourgeoisie no longer existed, class struggle was over, and it was quite enough for the working class and other labouring people simply to immerse themselves in production and professional work.

The great leader Chairman Mao incisively pointed out: “To overthrow a political power, it is always necessary first of all to create public opinion, to do work in the ideological sphere. This is true for the revolutionary class as well as for the counter-revolutionary class.” Liu Shao-chi made a great show in crying out for developing the productive forces while actually trying to restore capitalism. The counter-revolutionary view that “production is everything” that he brought into being was a smokescreen. He wanted to use it to dull our revolutionary vigilance so that he could recruit turncoats, take in renegades and set up cliques for selfish interests, and push ahead wildly with his counter-revolutionary revisionist line on all fronts, make the dictatorship of the proletariat degenerate into a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and transform the socialist economy into a capitalist economy. If we had been taken in by him, if we had forgotten the necessity of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, if we had not waged class struggle, made revolution in the realm of the superstructure, given prominence to proletarian politics, completely shattered the bourgeois headquarters headed by Liu Shao-chi and consolidated the leadership of the proletariat, and if we had become engrossed in production, “concerned ourselves solely with the production of grain, cotton and edible oil, and made no distinction between our enemies, our friends and ourselves,” if we had gone in only for mechanization and not for revolutionization, then it would not have been long before a counter-revolutionary restoration on a national scale would have inevitably occurred, and we would have been decapitated without knowing why.

Lenin pointed out: “Politics cannot but have precedence over economics,” “Without a correct political approach to the matter the given class will be unable to stay on top, and, consequently, will be incapable of solving its production problem either.” The great leader Chairman Mao has greatly developed the brilliant thought of Lenin. Chairman Mao teaches us over and over again: Politics is the commander, the soul in everything, “political work is the life-blood of all economic work.” Vice-Chairman Lin points out: “‘Grasp revolution, promote production’ — this principle is absolutely correct. It correctly explains the relationship between revolution and production, between consciousness and matter, between the superstructure and the economic base and between the relations of production and the productive forces.” While taking part in socialist construction we must never forget to continue the revolution under the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat. At all times, we must give prominence to proletarian politics and put revolution in command of production and use it to promote and lead production. We should go in for mechanization, still more should we go in for revolutionization, with the latter guiding the former. Only thus can we consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat, adhere to the orientation of socialism and develop the productive forces by leaps and bounds.

Liu Shao-chi is now a political corpse, but the pernicious influence of the “theory of productive forces” he spread has not yet been eliminated. We should arm ourselves further with Chairman Mao’s great theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, thoroughly criticize the “theory of productive forces,” and firmly grasp revolution and energetically promote production so as to be doubly successful in revolution and production.

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