Mao Zedong, Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (The Little Red Book), 1964
In 1949, a communist revolution took place in Mainland China, the culmination of a lengthy civil war at the end of which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) headed by the charismatic Mao Zedong overthrew the Guomindang (Nationalist) government of Jiang Jieshi. Mao, an able military leader with an arrogant and overbearing personality, was also a self-taught intellectual who aspired to become the world's greatest communist theoretician. Fearing that the CCP would eventually generate its own class of elite functionaries, he developed theories of continuing revolution intended to prevent such degeneration. Mao tended to use and sometimes even provoke international crises to eliminate threats to communist control and also to discredit his personal enemies. His actions were largely responsible for both the Sino-Soviet split that began in the late 1950s and the disastrous economic policies of the Page 2589 | Top of ArticleGreat Leap Forward of 1958–1962, a program of collectivization and back yard industrialization whose effects included a major famine in which several million Chinese died. Massively egotistical, Mao, like Stalin, also deliberately encouraged a cult based on his own personality, which exalted his near-godlike status as the ultimate Chinese communist leader and authority. Seeking to reinforce his power after the Great Leap Forward, in 1964 Mao authorized publication of the volume Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, also known as the Little Red Book. The book was a series of statements on different aspects of Chinese society and communism made by Mao, a prolific writer and speaker, at various points. Millions of copies were distributed throughout China and abroad, and during the 1960s he became something of a cult figure among Western leftists. In 1966 Mao, seeking both to radicalize China and to shore up his political position and eliminate rivals within the Politburo, launched the Cultural Revolution, which quickly expanded into an attack on all elites, characterized by mass demonstrations and the public humiliation and persecution of any individuals and groups who were characterized as class enemies. For several years, teenagers were withdrawn from education to serve as Red Guards, whose main duty was to enforce the principles of the Cultural Revolution on China's large population. Many urban young people and intellectuals were sent to the countryside or to factories to share the experiences of poor peasants and workers. The book, which articulated Mao's theory of continuous revolution and went through several editions, played a large role in fostering China's Cultural Revolution and became particularly popular among the Red Guards, who were often seen waving copies of the Little Red Book while marching through the streets. At the height of the Cultural Revolution, any Chinese person found to be without a copy was liable to instant punishment.
Chapter 1. The Communist Party
The force at the core leading our cause forward is the Chinese Communist Party. The theoretical basis guiding our thinking is Marxism-Leninism.—Opening address at the First Session of the First National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (September 15, 1954).
If there is to be revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary party, without a party built on the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory and in the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary style, it is impossible to lead the working class and the broad masses of the people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs.—“Revolutionary Forces of the World Unite, Fight Against Imperialist Aggression!” (November 1948), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 284.
Without the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party, without the Chinese Communists as the mainstay of the Chinese people, China can never achieve independence and liberation, or industrialization and the modernization of her agriculture.—“On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 318.
The Chinese Communist Party is the core of leadership of the whole Chinese people. Without this core,
the cause of socialism cannot be victorious.—Talk at the general reception for the delegates to the Third National Congress of the New Democratic Youth League of China (May 25, 1957).
A well-disciplined Party armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism, using the method of self-criticism and linked with the masses of the people; an army under the leadership of such a Party; a united front of all revolutionary classes and all revolutionary groups under the leadership of such a Party—these are the three main weapons with which we have defeated the enemy.—“On the People's Democratic Dictatorship” (June 30, 1949), Selected Works, Vol. I V, p. 422.
We must have faith in the masses and we must have faith in the Party. These are two cardinal principles. If we doubt these principles, we shall accomplish nothing. —On the Question of Agricultural Co-operation (July 31, 1955), 3rd ed., p. 7.
Armed with Marxist-Leninist theory and ideology, the Communist Party of China has brought a new style of work to the Chinese people. A style of work which essentially entails integrating theory with practice, forging close links with the masses and practicing self-criticism.—“On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 314.
No political party can possibly lead a great revolutionary movement to victory unless it possesses revolutionary theory and knowledge of history and has a profound grasp of the practical movement.—“The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War” (October 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 208.
As we used to say, the rectification movement is “a widespread movement of Marxist education”. Rectification means the whole Party studying Marxism through criticism and self-criticism. We can certainly learn more about Marxism in the course of the rectification movement.—Speech at the Chinese Communist Party's National Conference on Propaganda Work (March 12, l957), 1st pocket ed., p. 14.
It is an arduous task to ensure a better life for the several hundred million people of China and to build our economically and culturally backward country into a prosperous and powerful one with a high level of culture. And it is precisely in order to be able to shoulder this task more competently and work better together with all non-Party people who are actuated by high ideals and determined to institute reforms that we must conduct rectification movements both now and in the future, and constantly rid ourselves of whatever is wrong.—Ibid., pp. 15–16.
Policy is the starting-point of all the practical actions of a revolutionary party and manifests itself in the process and the end-result of that party's actions. A revolutionary party is carrying out a policy whenever it takes any action. If it is not carrying out a correct policy, it is carrying out a wrong policy; if it is not carrying out a given policy consciously, it is doing so blindly. What we call experience is the process and the end-result of carrying out a policy. Only through the prac-
tice of the people, that is, through experience, can we verify whether a policy is correct or wrong and determine to what extent it is correct or wrong. However, people's practice, especially the practice of a revolutionary party and the revolutionary masses, cannot but be bound up with one policy or another. Therefore, before any action is taken, we must explain the policy, which we have formulated in the light of the given circumstances, to Party members and to the masses. Otherwise, Party members and the masses will depart from the guidance of our policy, act blindly and carry out a wrong policy.—“On the Policy Concerning Industry and Commerce” (February 27, 1948), Selected Works, Vol. IV. Pp. 204–05.
Our Party has laid down the general line and general policy of the Chinese revolution as well as various specific lines for work and specific policies. However, while many comrades remember our Party's specific lines for work and specific policies, they often forget its general line and general policy. If we actually forget the Party's general line and general policy, then we shall be blind, half-baked, muddle-headed revolutionaries, and when we carry out a specific line for work and a specific policy, we shall lose our bearings and vacillate now to the left and now to the right, and the work will suffer.—“Speech at a Conference of Cadres in the Shansi-Suiyuan Liberated Area” (April 1, 1948), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 238.
Policy and tactics are the life of the Party; leading comrades at all levels must give them full attention and must never on any account be negligent.—“A Circular on the Situation” (March 20, 1948), Selected Works, Vol. I V, p. 220.
Source: Mao Tse-Tung, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1967).