Mao’s On the Ten Major Relationships and its Value to Scientific Socialism

Actually existing socialism is frequently portrayed by bourgeois ideologues in their anti-communist tirades as merely a dogmatic practice of consolidating and centralizing power over all spheres of life into the hands of a bloated, bureaucratic state.  This misinformed slander has unfortunately acquired the power of public prejudice, and has therefore necessitated the defense of Marxism-Leninism as an ideology developed on the basis of deductions and summations drawn on the interpretation of concrete material experience.  The crucial notion that Marxism is not a dogma, but a dynamic, scientifically valid and experienced guide to action has been pushed to the forefront in significance and controversy.

In a brilliant and cunning defense of the integrity of scientific socialism, Mao Tsetung explained in his world-historic essay On the Ten Major Relationships the actual complexity of socialism, the life and organization of which he reminded communists is defined by a series of contradictions and interlocking tensions, the dynamic interplay of considerations and structures, and the numerous contradictions that permeate all spheres of social life.

Bearing such indispensable realizations as its offerings to the world movement for the emancipation of the exploited and oppressed, Mao Tsetung’s On the Ten Major Relationships is a crucial contribution to and historic summation of the theory and practice of socialist construction and the dialectical relationships and contradictions active in such.  Thus, embracing, studying, and analyzing the profound summations and problems presented in On the Ten Major Relationships is tantamount to understanding and evaluating the historical experience of Marxism-Leninism itself, and recognizing a valuable, enriching contribution to the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism.  Hence the undeniably imperative task of examining this great work, and heeding Lenin’s warning when he said: “Our doctrine—said Engels, referring to himself and his famous friend—is not a dogma, but a guide to action. This classical statement stresses with remarkable force and expressiveness that aspect of Marxism which is very often lost sight of. And by losing sight of it, we turn Marxism into something one-sided, distorted and lifeless; we deprive it of its life blood; we undermine its basic theoretical foundations—dialectics, the doctrine of historical development, all-embracing and full of contradictions; we undermine its connection with the definite practical tasks of the epoch, which may change with every new turn of history.”1

On the Ten Major Relationships is, as Mao Tsetung admitted in its opening paragraph, an exposition and inquiry into the “problems concerning socialist construction and socialist transformation.”2  Mao’s thesis is that the problems of socialism which had practically manifested themselves in the course of the Chinese Revolution and the construction of socialism in China, taken in their theoretical expression for the sake of analysis, boil down to, essentially, “ten problems, or ten major relationships”3, whose central significance is determined by the basic, practical and theoretical problem of “mobilizing all positive factors, internal and external, to serve the cause of socialism.”4 The following assertion that the question of such ten major relationships – their inherent relevance to the policy of mobilizing the maximum amount of forces to serve the cause of advancing socialism – is fundamentally connected to learning from the experience of the Soviet Union, signifies the rightful recognition on the part of Mao that this problem as a whole is one of great gravity, one concerning the validity of Marxist-Leninist theory as a scientific guide to revolutionary experience.  The complications of striving to make China “a powerful socialist country”4 are therefore naturally tied into the greater theoretical understanding of socialist society.  Summarized: the practical and subsequently raised theoretical problems of China’s socialist experience are therefore indispensable to enriching, confirming and developing the Marxist-Leninist ideology as whole.  Mao thus presents a paradigmatic case of dialectical materialism’s experience in action, and it is from this that Mao sets forth to outline the ten major problems of socialist practice, as brought to the forefront by China’s experience.

The first major relationship, which is the contrasting relationship between heavy industry and light industry and agriculture, is essentially an analysis of the project of developing the productive forces in socialist society.  Mao proposes that, although the development of heavy industry is an absolutely indispensable and central task in the process of constructing a society built upon socialist economic principles, necessary precautions and efforts must be made in order to prevent the downplaying and under-appreciation of agriculture and light industry.  The notion is simple: don’t neglect light industry and agriculture – develop the three major aspects of the economy – heavy industry, light industry, and agriculture – on a fair and complementary basis without trivializing any aspect.  Such may appear to be a simple, common-sense idea of managing the economy in socialist society, but Mao’s deduction is actually a crucial realization based upon all of the hitherto experience of socialist construction.  Let us look closely into this matter.

The experience of socialist construction in the Soviet Union before the advent of revisionism following Stalin’s death had primarily been an experience inseparably bound up with conditions of encumbrance.  The world’s first successfully lasting incarnation of the dictatorship of the proletariat was not blessed with the supposed sacrosanct right of sovereignty that bourgeois ideologues lauded in its era, and the extremely rapid development of its productive forces was an unavoidable task given the conditions of external danger in the threat of imperialist invasion, and the internal danger of capitalist restoration.  Not to mention the fact that the Soviet people and their Bolshevik leadership were essentially left to their own devices and limited experience, being the first to ever embark on constructing a socialist society.  Stalin’s famous calling is unforgettable, and at the same time insightful into the conditions of socialist construction that the Soviet Union endured: “Do you want our socialist fatherland to be beaten and to lose its independence? If you do not want this, you must put an end to its backwardness in the shortest possible time and develop a genuine Bolshevik tempo in building up its socialist economy. There is no other way. That is why Lenin said on the eve of the October Revolution: ‘Either perish, or overtake and outstrip the advanced capitalist countries.’ We are 50 or 100 years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in 10 years. Either we do it, or we shall go under. That is what our obligations to the workers and peasants of the U.S.S.R. dictate to us.”6

The industrialization and collectivization of the Soviet Union were done in conditions of tremendous international tension, and explosive class struggles pressuring the dictatorship of the proletariat from within.  Yet, the Soviet people experienced undeniably impressive success in both projects, and their success was certainly a beacon of hope for the workers of the world against the dark background of the Great Depression in the West, and an irrefutable merit in the argument for socialism.

Unsurprisingly, however, in conditions of urgency, necessitated heroism, and inexperience, the Soviet Union in its industrialization and collectivization in Stalin’s time obviously made mistakes and was not a perfect model.  Yes, agriculture was collectivized and considerably mechanized, but its development was much slower and much lower in priority.  An excessive emphasis to heavy industry was given even during times when conditions allowed for attention to be comfortably given to light industry or agriculture.  Indeed heavy industry was extremely essential in providing for necessary purposes of national defense, and undeniably indispensable in creating means of production to give millions of Soviet people work in socialist construction and at the same time abolish unemployment, but the inequality in capital investments between heavy industry and other branches of the economy is, in some instances, unjustifiable.  Light industry was significantly neglected, and indeed the Soviet people’s foregoing of many consumer goods was heroic in their successful mission to build up their socialist motherland, but such should not be expected of working people in all conditions at all times.  Socialism means an incomparably better life for working people, and the Soviet system achieved this for millions of people in different spheres of life, but it definitely fell below par when it came to consumer goods, and although this is understandable, it cannot be deemed acceptable.

Are such realities being recounted by us and referred to by Mao in order to discredit or belittle the experience of the Soviet Union? Of course not!  They are brought up in a spirit of learning from the Soviet experience so as to honor those who lived and made it.  The Soviet experience of socialist construction yielded an abundance of fundamental lessons, and to ignore these is to purposefully sabotage the efforts of working people in the struggle for socialism.

Hence the profoundness of Mao’s conclusions concerning approaching the relationship between heavy industry, agriculture, and light industry in socialist construction.

Given the somewhat more favorable circumstances for China in its period of socialist development during a time of relative peace, Mao pointed out that China did not have to make the same mistakes and trod the exact same path, and his On the Ten Major Relationships was both an explanation and platform for this, and this will be glaringly evident throughout our entire analysis.

Concerning the second major relationship in socialist construction, the relationship between industry in the coastal regions and industry in the interior, Mao champions the notion that, given China’s favorable conditions, an effort can and must be made in the course of socialist construction to more evenly distribute industry throughout the country.

Mao proposes that industry be more evenly distributed for the following basic, pragmatic reasons:

(1:)  In the case of war, the strategic distribution of industry is a liability.
(2:)  The rate and capacity of accumulation allows at the present time to quickly build more factories, and thus expand industry throughout the country.

Once again, these may seem to be simple products of sane reasoning, but they also have their roots in the rich experience of socialist construction and its lessons, and are essential to a country more than ever when embarking on the tasks of socialist construction.  .

The perfidious attack of the Hitlerite fascists on the Soviet Union that sparked the Great Patriotic War in 1941 effectively confirmed Stalin’s rational suspicions and concerns – this is the typical, one-sided view on the Soviet Union’s equalization and transfer of industry.  Years before the war broke out, Stalin had insisted that an effort be made to transfer significant industries, especially war ones, deeper into the USSR so that, in case of war, essential war industries would remain considerably out of reach.  This maneuver was definitely original and dictated from a military-strategic standpoint, but it also represented, and naturally followed from, the long-standing Marxist deduction that the equalization of the distribution of industry is a truly socialist aspiration.  One cannot forget the Manifesto of the Communist Party, published in 1848, which contained in its 10 point platform the “gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.”7 Stalin heeded this when he encouraged industrial growth throughout even the most backwards regions of the Union so as to “create industrial centres in the Soviet republics of the East to serve as bases for rallying the peasants around the working class.”8

The gradual abolition of the contrast between concentrated, industrial centers (coastal industry in China’s case) and vast, rural landscapes is a preference of socialism, as forecast by Marx and Engels, and realized in practice by Stalin, as socialist construction demands the most all-embracing, cooperative, smoothly functioning of economy and turnover, which cannot but be impeded by a scene in which concentrated industrial locations are culturally and geographically alienated from vast rural society because of their development in contrasting conditions and surroundings.  The worker-peasant alliance, i.e., the town-countryside alliance, is crucial, and the tight-knit amalgamation of industry and agriculture facilitates the consolidation of such, and this was especially true in such a vast and demographically dissimilar country as China.  Besides, as in the case of China during the time that Mao wrote One the Ten Major Relationships, if industry really could, because of a rapid rate of accumulation and growth be accommodated to spreading throughout the whole country, why shouldn’t it be developed in such a manner?

Mao’s conclusions are even more discerning when one considers that one of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism is its brutal alienation and ruthless impoverishment of the countryside.

Thus, on the matter of the second major relationship, Mao proves again to be prescient and adept in his approach, recognizing the contradictions and solution to the antagonisms between the two aspects, and such cannot but be the result of his successful grasp of the summations of the experience and teachings of Marxist-Leninist theory and practice.

The relationship between economic construction and defence construction, the third major relationship, is an extension of the understanding of the priority and approach to branches of the economy in the project of developing the productive forces.  Mao’s thesis on this major relationship is best summarized in his own words: “National defence is indispensable…Only with the faster growth of economic construction can there be greater progress in defence construction…We must strengthen our national defence, and for that purpose we must first of all strengthen our work in economic construction.”9 We must unquestionably accept such a thesis of Mao’s, and scrutinize it to find its historical validity and prescience.

Such a deduction cannot be divorced from the necessary undertaking of studying and learning from the Soviet  experience.  As we admitted earlier, the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union was inseparably connected with the strengthening and defence of the country in the face of internal subversion and sabotage, and the threat of external invasion.  Building up a glorious and capable Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army was an unavoidable item on the agenda of Soviet development, and a task forced upon the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics by warmongering imperialists and fascist aggressors.  However, to the merit of Stalin and the Soviet people, the Soviet Union in Stalin’s time correctly approached the problem of the relationship between economic and defence construction, thus laying the foundations for Mao’s theoretical deduction.  Due to the prevalence of certain prejudices and falsehoods that openly deny this reality and suggest that the Soviet Union under Stalin allotted ridiculously excessive amounts of investment to military and defence, we must bury this misconception and thus defend the experience of the Soviet Union, and the validity of Mao’s deduction drawn on the basis of such.

In his book Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933, David Stone refutes this myth by taking the example of Holland Hunter, a former proponent of the abovementioned notion.  Stone says: “Hunter’s earlier work gave a rather prominent role to the pernicious effects of defense expenditure on the Soviet economy during the 1930’s.  Specifically, he argued that ‘rearmament…cut sharply into household consumption after the first few years and at the end of 1930’s cut sharply into civilian fixed capital formation as well.’  A detailed model of the Soviet economy from 1928 to 1940 led him to change his mind…”10 Stone shows that any adjustment that would have led to a decrease in military spending would have only been beneficial to the Soviet economy by approximately 5%11, and thus reveals that, given the Soviet Union’s situation, the problem of capital investment and military expenditure, or as Mao puts it, economic construction and defence construction, was handled particularly well by Stalin and the Soviet people.  Not only does Stone’s investigation show this to be a fact, but he also demonstrates that Stalin and the Soviet power consistently struggled to give priority to economic construction as opposed to military construction in economic planning, even in spite of the complaints and frustration of greedy military officials (later to be purged), who, despite the fact that they could not “obscure fundamental truths: industrialization would dramatically increase Soviet military might”12, persistently demanded more appropriation of investments for their sector.  Despite his obviously bourgeois convictions and identity, Stone’s study is nonetheless helpful in putting forward the reality of the Soviet people’s success in tackling the third major relationship problem of socialist construction, and therefore, for our purposes, bringing light to the credible foundation of Mao’s theoretical explication.

Stalin, in 1923, admitted that: “…to rid the state of the elements of bureaucracy, to transform Soviet society into a free association of working people, the people must have a high level of culture, peace conditions must be fully guaranteed all around us so as to remove the necessity of maintaining a large standing army, which entails heavy expenditure and cumbersome administrative departments, the very existence of which leaves its impress upon all other state institutions.”13 Here, as elsewhere in his works, Stalin stressed the problem and unfortunate reality of having to maintain a large standing army “which entails heavy expenditure and cumbersome administrative departments”, and to heed Stalin’s profound observation is tantamount to heeding the lessons of the Soviet experience.

Economic and military construction are in dialectical relationship to each other.  They are unified on the basis of developing a socialist country and strengthening and maintaining it, and yet they are contradicting in their potentially antagonistic absorption of the precious people’s wealth.  Mao’s solution is that, if possible, economic construction must be the focus of socialist construction.  In Mao’s straightforward words:  “One reliable way [to develop militarily] is to cut military and administrative expenditures down to appropriate proportions and increase expenditure on economic construction.  Only with the faster growth of economic construction can there be greater progress in defence construction…We must strengthen our national defence, and for that purpose we must first of all strengthen our work in economic construction.”14

Mao suggests that if conditions are favorable, economic construction must be given priority and definite preference against military construction.  “National defence is indispensable”, but the excessive swelling of such is detrimental to the development of the productive forces, and the construction of a socialist society, which can in turn tremendously benefit the capacity for defence and military.  The Soviet experience attests to this, and hence the fact that we can confidently accept Mao’s thesis on the third major relationship as a conclusion credibly drawn on the rich experience of socialist practice.

The fourth major relationship, the relationship between the state, the units of production, and the producers, is of particular importance.  It is essentially a question of how socialist society should function on the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat and a planned economy.

Mao points out first and foremost that socialist society must be distinguished by an improvement in the lives of workers. First on this matter, Mao says:  “As their labor productivity rises, there should be a gradual improvement in their working conditions and collective welfare.”15

The raising of working people’s material and cultural wellbeing is both a fundamental, foremost task of socialism, and yet also a natural development of the conditions of socialized property.  This is generally understood by genuine communists.  Stalin sufficiently summed up this unique feature of the proletarian revolution and the socialist society which it establishes:  “Our proletarian revolution is the only revolution in the world which had the opportunity of showing the people not only political results but also material results. Of all workers’ revolutions we know only one which managed to achieve power. That was the Paris Commune. But it did not last long. True, it endeavoured to smash the fetters of capitalism, but it did not have enough time to smash them, and still less to show the people the beneficial material results of revolution. Our revolution is the only one which not only smashed the fetters of capitalism and brought the people freedom, but also succeeded in creating the material conditions of a prosperous life for the people. Therein lies the strength and invincibility of our revolution.”16

On the basis of understanding this reality of socialism, Mao not only reiterated such a generally known truth, but also proceeded to elaborate certain notable features which are necessarily bound with the bettering of workers’ lives in socialist society.  Mao explained that  the struggle against bureaucracy is a component part of improving the livelihood of working people, as demonstrated in the Chinese experience in which “concern for the livelihood of the masses” is connected to “opposing bureaucracy.”

This thesis and realization of Mao’s is one inseparable from an analysis of the historical experience of socialism, as Mao, upon introducing the fourth major relationship, reminds comrades that: “In view of the experience of the Soviet Union as well as our own, we must see to it that from now on this problem is solved much better.”17 To understand the profoundness of Mao’s calls for an improvement in working people’s livelihood and for a struggle against bureaucracy as important factors in the fourth major relationship, and therefore socialist construction, we must once again delve into the historical experience of socialist construction to understand the significance of the problem and the true gravity of Mao’s pronouncement.

The Soviet Union, before its degeneration into revisionism following the 20th Congress of the CPSU, struggled all of its socialist life with the problem of bureaucracy (we even reviewed a quote by Stalin on the matter above).

Bureaucracy is the scourge of socialism; it is that parasite which sometimes manages to prosper so well in the conditions of socialist construction, all the while choking the pores by which the revolution grows and develops, as bureaucracy can, under given conditions, transform into a new bourgeoisie within socialist society.  Says Stalin:  “Bureaucracy is one of the worst enemies of our progress. It exists in all our organizations …. The trouble is that it is not a matter of the old bureaucrats. It is a matter of the new bureaucrats, bureaucrats who sympathize with the Soviet Government and finally, communist bureaucrats. The communist bureaucrat is the most dangerous type of bureaucrat. Why? Because he masks his bureaucracy with the title of Party member.”18

Bureaucracy is an unfortunately common phenomenon in the construction of socialism in such backwards countries in which the revolution in the imperialist epoch most easily breaks out.  Owing to the low cultural level of working people, and also to the pressures of tremendous, overwhelming tasks of socialist construction, bureaucracy develops in the early stages of socialism because of the extraordinary efforts that are necessary on the part of professionals and cadres.

However, the development of socialism is necessarily bound up with the replacement of bureaucracy with dynamic, active, all-embracing workers’ control and democracy, a fundamental tenet of socialism and the direct antithesis to bureaucratic methods of administration.   The struggle against bureaucracy is therefore an indispensable component of the class struggle in the period of socialism.

Enver Hoxha, speaking of the experience of class struggle during socialism in Albania, noted:  “All this struggle has been spearheaded against bureaucracy, for the further development of socialist democracy…The fight against bureaucracy and all its manifestations, as one of the most important expressions of the class struggle in the conditions of socialism, remains a permanent task…Therefore, the Party organizations and the state organs must focus their attention on the struggle against bureaucracy, must strengthen their educational work, and be continuously seeking ways and means which should be used to carry this fight through to the end, while resolutely smashing the obstacles and restrictive trends, whenever and in whatever form they appear…This fight is of vital importance to the dictatorship of the proletariat, because bureaucracy is a great and deep-rooted evil.  As the negative experiences of the Soviet Union and of some other countries showed, bureaucracy leads to the separation of the state from the masses of people, to placing the leading organs and cadres above the masses and beyond their control, to the erosion of socialist democracy, to the creation of bureaucratic centralism, and to degeneration of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”19

The experience of the Soviet Union was a confirmation of the seriousness and persistence of the problem of bureaucracy.  Lenin’s observation and warning that no movement has ever been pure of certain corrupt elements bore truth in the Soviet Union in both his and Stalin’s time.  As Ludo Martens demonstrated in his book Another View of Stalin, bureaucracy always threatened the vitality and efficiency of the Soviet power and its activities, but Lenin, Stalin, and all genuine Bolsheviks and conscious, enthusiastic workers struggled whole-heartedly against bureaucracy.  Although bureaucratic methods of administration remained a considerable problem notwithstanding the verification campaigns and purges, reinforcement of public education, expansion and rectification of apparatus and Party work and democracy, etc. the struggle against bureaucracy in the Soviet Union served as a model to Marxist-Leninists in demonstrating and exposing the social roots, problems, direction, and effects of bureaucracy on the construction, consolidation, and improvement of socialism.  In discussing this, Mao also brings up the problem of correctly handling the relationship between the practice of workers’ enthusiasm and heroism in socialist construction and the appropriate material compensation for work, and shows that this ties into the question of bureaucracy because the enthusiasm, heroism, and at the same time material demands of workers who naturally “under the regime of the proletariat, unfailingly display high political consciousness and enthusiasm for labor”20 naturally come into contradiction with the restrictive and insensible tendencies of shameless bureaucrats.

The methods of struggling against and preventing the growth and entrenchment of bureaucracy are beyond the scope of our analysis, and indeed deserve an entire theoretical and practical analysis of their own, but the essence of the matter lies in that, when Mao called for a struggle for a struggle against bureaucracy in complement to the improvement of working people’s conditions, he was really proposing a general direction for handling one of the historically greatest problems of socialism by taking the practical experience of socialist construction in its theoretical expression.  Mao’s call for a struggle against bureaucracy to better the livelihood of working people is a slogan for all revolutionaries to receive, embrace, and apply in their struggle to build a new, socialist society for humanity, and an indispensable notion to grasp the significance of in analyzing the ten major relationships and problems of socialist construction.

After presenting the dilemma of bureaucracy and working people’s conditions of prosperity, Mao proceeds to relate such issues to the puzzle of the planned economy as a whole, specifically the relation between centralization and local authority.  In Mao’s words, this is the question of the “independence of the factories under unified leadership.”21

Mao illustrates the problem:  “As a matter of principle, centralization and independence form a unity of opposites, and there must be both centralization and independence. For instance, we are now having a meeting, which is centralization; after the meeting, some of us will go for a walk, some will read books, some will go to eat, which is independence. If we don’t adjourn the meeting and give everyone some independence but let it go on and on, wouldn’t it be the death of us all? This is true of individuals, and no less true of factories and other units of production. Every unit of production must enjoy independence as the correlative of centralization if it is to develop more vigorously.”22

Fairly straightforward, this relationship is one that is a major dialectical relationship in the framework of socialist society.  Whereas it is absolutely indispensable to socialist society to have a central, guiding plan that can give order and scientific habit to the production and distribution of goods in the interest of working people regardless of the potential bourgeois griping of certain officials and the narrow interest of bourgeois right that persists in socialist distribution, the ability of a given factory to voice and include its appropriate requirements and desires into the central economic plan is a necessary condition of the maintaining the latter.  Essentially, the issue of responsibility to maintaining the independent capacity of a production unit, and also to playing its part within the context of the general economic plan for society is the crux of the matter.

In Lenin’s The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government, a brilliant exposition was given on the tasks of socialist society.  Lenin’s words demonstrate the validity and importance of Mao’s concern, and the necessary conditions of the solution to such:  “In every socialist revolution, however—and consequently in the socialist revolution in Russia which we began on October 25, 1917—the principal task of the proletariat, and of the poor peasants which it leads, is the positive or constructive work of setting up an extremely intricate and delicate system of new organisational relationships extending to the planned production and distribution of the goods required for the existence of tens of millions of people. Such a revolution can be successfully carried out only if the majority of the population, and primarily the majority of the working people, engage in independent creative work as makers of history. Only if the proletariat and the poor peasants display sufficient class-consciousness, devotion to principle, self-sacrifice and perseverance, will the victory of the socialist revolution be assured. By creating a new, Soviet type of state, which gives the working and oppressed people the chance to take an active part in the independent building up of a new society, we solved only a small part of this difficult problem . The principal difficulty lies in the economic sphere, namely, the introduction of the strictest and universal accounting and control of the production and distribution of goods, raising the productivity of labour and socialising production in practice.”23

Lenin’s analysis emphasizes the important relationship of independence to unity.  He deduces, as does Mao, that only by “engaging in independent creative work” within the context of “devotion to principle” can “the victory of the socialist revolution be assured” and the system of “new organizational relationships extending to the planned production and distribution of the goods required for the existence of tens of millions of people” be established and consolidated as the essence of socialist society.  Mao’s proposal is precisely this in simpler terms.

After considering such an example of the fourth major relationship in the context of workers and factories, and both and authority, Mao proceeds to presenting the problem in the terms of the peasantry and the cooperatives, and both and the state, or in his words: “Now about the peasants.”24

Taking into account the experience of socialist construction in relation to the peasantry both in the Soviet Union and China, Mao suggests that it is an imperative duty of the dictatorship of the proletariat to observe and ensure good relations with the peasantry on its gradual road to socialism.  The Soviet Union yielded an abundance of theoretical works and practical experience on the matter, and Mao undeniably heeds all of such along with China’s hitherto practice to arrive at the following:  “The Soviet Union has adopted measures which squeeze the peasants very hard. It takes away too much from the peasants at too low a price through its system of so-called obligatory sales and other measures. This method of capital accumulation has seriously dampened the peasants’ enthusiasm for production. You want the hen to lay more eggs and yet you don’t feed it, you want the horse to run fast and yet you don’t let it graze. What kind of logic is that!  Our policies towards the peasants differ from those of the Soviet Union and take into account the interests of both the state and the peasants. Our agricultural tax has always been relatively low. In the exchange of industrial and agricultural products we follow a policy of narrowing the price scissors, a policy of exchanging equal or roughly equal values. The state buys agricultural products at standard prices while the peasants suffer no loss, and, what is more, our purchase prices are gradually being raised. In supplying the peasants with manufactured goods we follow a policy of larger sales at a small profit and of stabilizing or appropriately reducing their prices; in supplying grain to the peasants in grain-deficient areas we generally subsidize such sales to a certain extent. Even so, mistakes of one kind or another will occur if we are not careful. In view of the grave mistakes made by the Soviet Union on this question, we must take greater care and handle the relationship between the state and the peasants well.”25

Mao’s conclusion here is important, as the peasant question is a cardinal problem in the theory and practice of socialist construction.  Combined with the prescient slogan of Soviet socialist construction “Rely on the poor peasant, ally with the middle peasant, and struggle against the kulak” which is undeniably a universally applicable one, Mao’s assertion that a comradely and pragmatic attitude towards the peasantry (which by the time of On the Ten Major Relationships was entirely collectivized) must be realized in the process of socialist construction is not only one that realizes the validity of such a deduction as laid down as early as 1894 by Engels, but also one that emphasizes the guiding light of this for future socialist practice as a theoretical summation drawn on the experience of Marxism-Leninism.

Concerning the equally important aspect of the peasant problem, the question of cooperatives/collectives, Mao considers the past difficulties encountered by the Soviet people in their construction of socialism in regards to the correct distribution of income and yield of a given collective.  A decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the U.S.S.R. and of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B) dated 19 April 1938 and signed by J.V. Stalin and V.M. Molotov exposes the problem that the Soviet people were confronted with in socialist construction in agriculture, and that Mao would, in the Chinese experience, be compelled to analyze and derive lessons thereof. The decree reads:  “The Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B) notice that from the fact of the complete victory of the Kolkhozine order and the growth of the output from the Kolkhozine fields, the communal revenues of the Kolkhozes together with the revenues from the daily work of the Kolkhozines, have augmented considerably.  At the same time, the Council of People’s Commissars of the U.S.S.R. and the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B) state on the basis of innumerable facts that in the Kolkhozes from a series of regions and Republics and from administrative regions, the monetary revenues are incorrectly distributed in total contradiction with the interests of the Kolkhozines. The management of the Kolkhozes with the direct agreement of the Party organizations, and of the district Soviets, administrative regions, regions and Republics, spend a substantial portion of the revenues on Socialist construction in the Kolkhozes, production and administrative expenses after which the portion of revenues distributed among the Kolkhozines for their daily work, has reduced considerably. This often forces the Kolkhozines to look for work outside the Kolkhozes, and the Kolkhozes themselves often suffer from an insufficient work force…The Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B) decree :

“1. To condemn as anti-Kolkhozine, the practice of having a negligent attitude towards the daily work of the Kolkhozines and also the wastage of Kolkhozine revenues on unnecessary excessive expenditure on large scale work, on production, and on administrative and economic needs. The district committees, regional committees and the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B) are ordered to put an end to these practices.

“2. To abolish the existing usage outlined by the statutes of the artel, concerning the distribution of the monetary revenues of the artel, and to establish that in the future the artel will redistribute among the Kolkhozines not less than 60 – 70 per cent of all the monetary revenues of the artel for their work.

“3. To establish that appropriation of funds to large scale work will not exceed 10 per cent of the monetary revenues, moreover that the amount to be spent on large scale work in the current year must be based on the revenue of the previous year.

“4. To establish that in the annual budget approved by the general assembly of Kolkhozines, for the needs of production, the management must not spend more than the 70 per cent outlined by the budget, before the final evaluation of the harvest. The remaining 30 per cent must be kept in reserve and spent only after the final evaluation of the harvest and after the discussion of the general assembly of the Kolkhozines.” 26

Mao, studying this problem of the collective farm system in the Soviet Union, drew essential conclusions in line with the general proposals of Stalin and Molotov.  Mao presented these deliberations in On the Ten Major Relationships:  “Similarly, the relationship between the co-operative and the peasants should be well handled. What proportion of the earnings of a co-operative should go to the state, to the co-operative and to the peasants respectively and in what form should be determined properly. The amount that goes to the co-operative is used directly to serve the peasants. Production expenses need no explanation, management expenses are also necessary, the accumulation fund is for expanded reproduction and the public welfare fund is for the peasants’ well- being. However, together with the peasants, we should work out equitable ratios among these items. We must strictly economize on production and management expenses. The accumulation fund and the public welfare fund must also be kept within limits, and one shouldn’t expect all good things to be done in a single year.

“Except in case of extraordinary natural disasters, we must see to it that, given increased agricultural production, 90 per cent of the co-operative members get some increase in their income and the other 10 per cent break even each year, and if the latter’s income should fall, ways must be found to solve the problem in good time.”27

Having presented such profound conclusions in his exposition on the fourth major relationship, Mao concludes:  “In short, consideration must be given to both sides, not to just one, whether they are the state and the factory, the state and the worker, the factory and the worker, the state and the co-operative, the state and the peasant, or the co-operative and the peasant. To give consideration to only one side, whichever it may be, is harmful to socialism and to the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is a big question which concerns 600 million people, and it calls for repeated education in the whole Party and the whole nation.”28

Proceeding to the fifth major relationship, which is partly a further elaboration on the matter of centralization and local authority as posed in the fourth major relationship, Mao discusses the complication of solving the issue of “how to enlarge the powers of local authorities to some extent, give them greater independence and let them do more, all on the premise that the unified leadership of the central authorities is to be strengthened.  This will be advantageous to our task of building a powerful socialist country.  Our territory is so vast, our population is so large and the conditions are so complex that it is far better to have the initiative come from both the central and local authorities than from one source alone.  We must not follow the example of the Soviet Union in concentrating everything in the hands of the central authorities, shackling the local authorities and denying them the right to independent action.”29

Mao further elaborates and illustrates the dilemma:  “In short, if we are to promote socialist construction, we must bring the initiative of the local authorities into play.  If we are to strengthen the central authorities, we must attend to the interests of the localities…To build a powerful socialist country it is imperative to have a strong and unified central leadership and unified planning and discipline throughout the country; disruption of this indispensable unity is impermissible.  At the same time, it is essential to bring the initiative of local authorities into play and let each locality enjoy the particularity suited to its local conditions.”30

On this matter, Mao’s deduction is fairly straightforward, but nonetheless one of vital importance to the theory and practice of socialism.  Mao encourages a cooperative relationship between local and central authorities and between local authorities of all kinds, and by doing so promotes the genuinely socialist, “consistent principle to advocate consideration for the general interest and mutual help and accommodation.”31

Mao concludes with leaving the solution of this problem to further socialist experience and practice:  “Our experience is still insufficient and immature on the question of handling the relationship between the central and local authorities and that between different local authorities. We hope that you will consider and discuss it in earnest and sum up your experience from time to time so as to enhance achievements and overcome shortcomings.”32

The sixth major relationship is one that has been given extensive thought and practical significance in the history of scientific socialism and the struggle for socialist revolution.  It is a theoretical and practical problem that confronted Marxism with the dawning of the new epoch of imperialism, a problem presented because of the conditions of capitalist development under imperialism that limit the revolutionary process to develop in an uneven manner in which revolutions are fought and new socialist states are established country by country, generally in the “weaker links” of imperialism first, i.e., the underdeveloped countries where the contradictions of capitalism and imperialist are unbearably exacerbated.  This question is none other than the national question.

In the words of Stalin in his famous writing Marxism and the National Question, the national question concerns the reality that  “A nation has the right freely to determine its own destiny. It has the right to arrange its life as it sees fit, without, of course, trampling on the rights of other nations. That is beyond dispute.  But how exactly should it arrange its own life, what forms should its future constitution take, if the interests of the majority of the nation and, above all, of the proletariat are to be borne in mind?”33

When analyzed in the context and situation of the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Lenin and Stalin were compelled to conclude, even against their formerly expressed positions on the national question, that federation was the “general form of a political union which makes it possible a) to guarantee the integrity and economic development both of the individual republics and of the federation as a whole, b) to embrace the various social, cultural, and economic conditions of the various nations and peoples, which are at different levels of development, and accordingly to apply one form of federation or another, and c) to bring about the peaceful coexistence and fraternal collaboration of the nations and peoples which have in one form or another thrown in their lot with that of the federation.”34

This realization, which ran counter to the previously maintained views of Lenin and Stalin on the conditions, form, and organization of the unification of the peoples of the former Russian Empire under socialism, was arrived at because, in practical experience, it was observed that such a form of federation was the only applicable system which could prevent national chauvinism in general, and Great Russian national chauvinism in particular.  And it is precisely this principled and creative approach that Lenin and Stalin adopted that Mao presents as the experience-proven basis for understanding the national question for China, and for socialist countries in general.

Mao basically reminds comrades that it is the duty of communists to prevent and oppose all forms of chauvinism regardless of nationality in the interest of strengthening the unity of all of the nationalities in the common endeavour to build a great socialist motherland.  To reach this end, a creative solution must be applied on a principled basis.

Mao correctly stresses the two fundamental necessities of solving the national question in regards to constructing a socialist country:  chauvinism must be ruthlessly fought, and unity must be preserved and consolidated on the basis of cooperation among nationalities in the interest of building socialism for all.  These are two cardinal points that the Soviet experience yielded an abundance of lessons on, particularly to be found in the writings of Lenin and Stalin, the two essential points which Mao correctly presents as absolute, guiding principles to creatively solving the national question.

Such is the significance of the sixth major relationship.

The seventh major relationship finds its significance in that it is (1) connected with the general problem of the continuation of class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat and (2) in that it is an especially crucial problem for those societies which undergo a New Democratic revolution and are in transition to socialism.  In essence, the seventh major relationship concerns the relationship between the Communist Party and other democratic parties, and the relationship between the state and these parties.  Abstractly, Mao words it as the relationship between Party and non-Party.

The scientific nature of Marxism-Leninism was proved in practice by the New Democratic revolution that established the People’s Republic of China in 1949.  By analyzing the concrete conditions of China and the ensuing Chinese Revolution, the Communist International and Mao Tsetung effectively adapted Marxism-Leninism to the Chinese situation by pointing out the road to socialism based on China’s situation and conditions.  But the scientific quality of Marxism-Leninism, of dialectical materialism, did not stop there.  In the transition from the new democratic revolution to socialism, Mao Tsetung was compelled to further analyze the conditions and methods by which Marxism-Leninism could secure more sway among the people and induce mass movement in the direction of socialism.

Such was the presentation of the seventh major relationship, in which Mao showed that the relationship between the leading Communist Party and the competing democratic parties was one that required solution through debate and open struggle.  Mao said:  “In our country the various democratic parties, consisting primarily of the national bourgeoisie and its intellectuals, emerged during the resistance to Japan and the struggle against Chiang Kai-shek, and they continue to exist to this day.  In this respect, China is different from the Soviet Union.  We have purposely let the democratic parties remain, giving them opportunities to express their views and adopting a policy of both unity and struggle towards them. We unite with all those democratic personages who offer us well-intentioned criticisms. We should go on activating the enthusiasm of such people from the Kuomintang army and government as Wei Li-huang and Weng Wen- hao, who are patriotic. We should even provide for such abusive types as Lung Yun, Liang Shu-ming and Peng Yi-hu and allow them to rail at us, while refuting their nonsense and accepting what makes sense in their rebukes. This is better for the Party, for the people and for socialism.

“Since classes and class struggle still exist in China, there is bound to be opposition in one form or another. Although all the democratic parties and democrats without party affiliation have professed their acceptance of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, many of them are actually in opposition in varying degrees. On such matters as “carrying the revolution through to the end”, the movement to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea and the agrarian reform, they were against us and yet not against us. To this very day they have reservations about the suppression of counter-revolutionaries. They didn’t want to have a constitution of the socialist type, for, as they said, the Common Programme was just perfect, and yet when the Draft Constitution came out, their hands all went up in favour. Things often turn into their opposites, and this is also true of the attitude of the democratic parties on many questions. They are in opposition, and yet not in opposition, often proceeding from being in opposition to not being in opposition.

“The Communist Party and the democratic parties are all products of history.”35

Based on this recognition, Mao concluded:  Let one hundred flowers blossom and let different schools of thought contend so as to publicly and honestly expose the superiority of socialism, and realize the law of contradiction in practice.  Class struggle and opposition are natural, objective phenomena, so why try to artificially stop them?  If some other democratic parties truly do hold sway among considerable portions of the people, why suppress them?  Socialism is the product of class struggle, so if this struggle assumes the form of the competition of democratic parties in the preceding period, so be it as long as such does not halt the actual transition to socialism in practice.

Such was Mao’s conclusion based on a scientific analysis of the situation in the People’s Republic of China, and on the historical experience on the problem in the case of Lenin and the Socialist Revolutionaries.  Hence the sagacious thesis of Mao on the seventh major relationship.

J. Werner, whose article Beat Back the Dogmato-Revisionist Attack on Mao Tsetung Thought has served to educate and arm numerous Marxist-Leninist-Maoists in their defence of Marxism-Leninism against Enver Hoxha’s attack on Mao in his work Imperialism and the Revolution, contains a brilliant exposition on the matter, and we are compelled to quote it here in full:

“With   the   understanding   that   the   class   struggle   would   continue   under   the   new   socialist system,  and  recognizing  that  a  major  battle  was  brewing  because  of  the  convergence  of  the domestic   and   international   conditions   cited   earlier,   Mao   issued   the   call   to   “Let   a   hundred flowers  blossom,  let  a  hundred  schools  of  thought  contend.”  People  were  urged  to  freely  air their   opinions   of   the   Communist   Party,   to   express   what   they   felt   its   defects   to   be,   and   to debate   things   out   on   the   cultural,   educational   and   scientific   fronts.   At   the   same   time,   Mao pointed   out   that   the   counterrevolutionaries   (and   here   Mao   was   speaking   specifically   of those   elements   who   had   been   uncovered   and   identified   as   such   in   the   movements   of   the early  ’50s  to  suppress  counter-­revolutionaries)  should  not  be  allowed  this  kind  of  freedom of  speech  and,  more  importantly,  he  drew  up  guidelines  to  assist  the  masses  in  sorting  out “fragrant  flowers”  from  “poisonous  weeds”:

Literally   the   two   slogans–let   a   hundred   flowers   blossom   and   let   a   hundred schools   of   thought   contend–have   no   class   character;;   the   proletariat   can   turn them   to   account,   and   so   can   the   bourgeoisie   or   others.   Different   classes,   strata and  social  groups  each  have  their  own  views  on  what  are  fragrant  flowers  and what   are   poisonous   weeds.   Then,   from   the   point   of   view   of   the   masses,   what should  be  the  criteria  today  for  distinguishing  fragrant  flowers  from  poisonous weeds?   In   their   political   activities,   how   should   our   people   judge   whether   a person’s   words   and   deeds   are   right   or   wrong?.   .   .   the   criteria   should   be   as follows:

(1)  Words  and  deeds  should  help  to  unite,  and  not  divide,  the  people  of  all  our nationalities.

(2)  They  should  be  beneficial,  and  not  harmful,  to  socialist  transformation  and socialist  construction.

(3)   They   should   help   to   consolidate,   and   not   undermine   or   weaken,   the people’s  democratic  dictatorship.

(4)  They  should  help  to  consolidate,  and  not  undermine  or  weaken,  democratic centralism.

(5)  They  should  help  to  strengthen,  and  not  shake  off  or  weaken,  the  leadership of  the  Communist  Party.

(6)   They   should   be   beneficial,   and   not   harmful,   to   international   socialist   unity and  the  unity  of  the  peace-­loving  people  of  the  world.   Of  these  six  criteria,  the  most  important  are  the  two  about  the  socialist  path  and the  leadership  of  the  Party.

Mao   had   no   illusions   that   the   bourgeois   Rightists   would   follow   these   criteria   in   the ensuing  struggle.  Quite  the  contrary.  He  fully  expected  them  to  launch  a  vicious  assault  on the   leadership   of   the   Party   and   on   the   socialist   road,   as   did   their   counterparts   in   Hungary. He   knew   that   they   would   leap   out   and   try   to   mobilize   public   opinion   for   a   restoration   of capitalism  whether  or  not  the  Party  “allowed”  them  to  do  so.   And  by  issuing  the  six  criteria (and   focusing   especially   on   two   of   these),   Mao   was   laying   the   best   possible   basis   for   the masses   to   sort   out   the   flood   of   various   opinions   and   political   viewpoints   that   was   sure   to develop.

In  the  early  weeks  of  the  “hundred  flowers”  campaign  during  the  spring  of  1957,  an  all out  assault  on  the  Party  was  launched  by  the  Democratic  League,  a  bourgeois  political  party which  had  participated  in  the  government  of  the  People’s  Republic,  and  by  the  newspaper Wen  Hui  Pao,  closely  linked  to  the  former  and  also  representing  the  political  viewpoint  of the   national   bourgeoisie.   In   addition,   there   was   a   phenomenon   of   members   of   the   Party joining   in   the   hysterical   attack.   The   Rightists   called   for   the   institution   of   a   Western-­style “democracy,”  and  demanded  that  the  “Communist  Party  get  off  of  the  sedan  chair.”  Posters went  up  in  various  strongholds  of  the  Rightists,  especially  the  universities,  along  the  same themes.   In   addition   there   were   ugly   incidents   where   posters   written   supporting   the   Party were  torn  down,  people  beaten,  and  so  on.

Mao’s  policy  was  to  lay  back  and  wait  a  few  weeks,  let  the  bourgeois  Rightists  jump  out and  expose  themselves,  and  let  those  Party  members  with  the  same  ideas  and  program  rush to   their   defense.   But   far   from   seeing   some   sort   of   peaceful   “coexistence”   between   the bourgeois   line   and   Marxism-­Leninism,   Mao   led   the   masses   of   people   in   launching   a   fierce counter-­attack  against  the  bourgeois  Rightists.  Under  the  blows  of  the  Party  and  the  masses, the  bourgeois  Rightists  were  forced  to  beat  a  hasty  retreat,  and  the  Party’s  leadership  among the  masses  was  consolidated  in  the  process.  The  Western  press  and  the  Rightists  in  China bitterly   accused   Mao   of   having   “tricked”   them   by   allowing   them   to   come   out   with   their reactionary  program  and  then  stomping  on  it.  Mao  pointed  out:

The   masses   could   thus   clearly   distinguish   those   whose   criticism   was   well intentioned   from   those   whose   so-­called   criticism   was   malevolent,   and   thus forces   could   be   mustered   to   counter-­attack   when   the   time   was   ripe.   Some   say this  was  a  covert  scheme.  We  say  it  was  an  overt  one.  For  we  made  it  plain  to the   enemy   beforehand:   only   when   ghosts   and   monsters   are   allowed   to   come into   the   open   can   they   be   wiped   out;;   only   when   poisonous   weeds   are   allowed to   sprout   from   the   soil   can   they   be   uprooted.   Don’t   the   peasants   weed   several times   a   year?   Besides,   uprooted   weeds   can   be   used   as   manure.   The   class enemies   will   invariably   seek   opportunities   to   assert   themselves.   They   will   not resign  themselves  to  losing  state  power  and  being  expropriated.  However  much the  Communist  Party  warns  its  enemies  in  advance  and  makes  its  basic  strategy known   to   them,   they   will   still   launch   attacks.   Class   struggle   is   an   objective reality,  independent  of  man’s  will.  That  is  to  say,  class  struggle  is  inevitable.  It cannot   be   avoided   even   if   people   want   to   avoid   it.   The   only   thing   to   do   is   to make  the  best  of  the  situation  and  guide  the  struggle  to  victory.

And  guide  the  struggle  to  victory  is  exactly  what  Mao  did  during  the  “hundred  flowers” campaign.  The  masses  were  aroused  and  were  not  about  to  tolerate  the  frantic  attacks  on  the victories  that  had  been  won  in  the  revolution  and  the  socialist  transformations  that  had  been taking   place.   The   bourgeois   Rightists   retreated,   but   Mao   pursued   them   and   refused   to   let them  worm  out  of  their  predicament  with  a  few  pious  phrases  of  self-­criticism.  Those  who had   engaged   in   counter-­revolutionary   activities   (and   there   w ere   instances   of   beatings,   even murder,  by  the  bourgeois  Rightists)  were  arrested  and  brought  to  justice.

As  Mao  was  to  point  out,  the  “hundred  flowers”  campaign  was  also  an  important  school for  the  Party  itself,  as  well  as  for  the  masses.  Mao  pointed  out:

Marxists   should   not   be   afraid   of   criticism   from   any   quarter.   Quite   the contrary,  they  need  to  temper  and  develop  themselves  and  win  new  positions  in the   teeth   of   criticism   and   in   the   storm   and   stress   of   struggle.   Fighting   against wrong   ideas   is   like   being   vaccinated–a   man   develops   greater   immunity   from disease  as  a  result  of  vaccination.  Plants  raised  in  hothouses  are  unlikely  to  be hardy.   Carrying   out   the   policy   of   letting   a   hundred   flowers   blossom   and   a hundred   schools   of   thought   contend   will   not   weaken,   but   strengthen,   the leading  position  of  Marxism  in  the  ideological  field.

What   should   our   policy   be   towards   non-­Marxist   ideas?   As   far   as unmistakable   counter-­revolutionaries   and   saboteurs   of   the   socialist   cause   are concerned,   the   matter   is   easy,   we   simply   deprive   them   of   their   freedom   of speech.  But  incorrect  ideas  among  the  people  are  quite  a  different  matter.  Will  it do  to  ban  such  ideas  and  deny  them  any  opportunity  for  expression?  Certainly not.  It  is  not  only  futile  but  very  harmful  to  use  crude  methods  in  dealing  with ideological   questions   among   the   people,   with   questions   about   man’s   mental world.

You  may  ban  the  expression  of  wrong  ideas,  but  the  ideas  will  still  be  there. On   the   other   hand,   if   correct   ideas   are   pampered   in   hothouses   and   never exposed   to   the   elements   and   immunized   against   disease,   they   will   not   win   out against   erroneous   ones.   Therefore,   it   is   only   by   employing   the   method   of discussion,   criticism   and   reasoning   that   we   can   really   foster   correct   ideas   and overcome  wrong  ones,  and  that  we  can  really  settle  issues.

Thus  we  can  clearly  see  the  two  aspects  of  the  “hundred  flowers”  campaign  which  have been  so  maliciously  and  fraudulently  attacked  by  Hoxha  and  the  other  dogmato-­revisionists (and,  for  that  matter,  by  the  Khrushchevite  revisionists  at  the  time,  who  also  slandered  it  as “liberalism”).  First,  it  was  an  effort  to  head  off  and  beat  back  a  counter-­revolutionary  trend that  was  developing  in  China  as  a  result  of  socialist  transformations  and  the  expropriation  of the  bourgeoisie  in  China,  and  the  rise  of  revisionism  internationally–especially  in  the  Soviet Union   but   also   with   the   counterrevolutionary   rebellion   in   Hungary.   Second,   the   “hundred flowers”  was  a  call  for  a  nationwide  debate  on  the  ideological  front  among  the  ranks  of  the people,  a  debate  which  could  not  help  but  deepen  the  influence  of  Marxism-­Leninism  in  the ranks  of  the  Chinese  proletariat  and  people.”36

To proceed to the eighth major relationship.  This relationship is such which exists between revolutionary and counter-revolutionary elements.  Mao’s thesis is that given the fact that counter-revolutionary elements are obviously negative, destructive, and reactionary, the handling of counter-revolutionaries must of course be done, but in such a manner that accords to the given situation.  This notion is, to some extent, a further addition to the question of handling other parties in the course of socialist construction.

Mao shows that there are undeniably incidences in which counter-revolutionaries ought to be penalized to the extreme, i.e., executed in the name of the revolution, but, and this is Mao’s point, there are situations in which the approach to counter-revolutionaries should be peaceful.

Absolute vigilance must be maintained towards the activities and existence of counter-revolutionaries for the sake of preventing their sabotage and destruction of the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism, but at the same time this vigilance is necessary to determine whether or not it is appropriate to apply a given method of punishment in specific situations.

Mao shows that simply murdering all counter-revolutionaries won’t benefit society at large.  It does not raise production, it does not strengthen national defence, it does not raise the country’s cultural and scientific level, it does not demonstrate the practice of a higher form of society, etc.

The message is simple: be principled and pragmatic with counter-revolutionaries.  Oppose them in principle, but deal with them pragmatically and rationally.  Only by doing so can communists display their higher way of life and thinking, and even integrate through reeducation former counter-revolutionaries into such.  This is a problem of socialist society that was exposed not only in the Soviet Union, but in China, Albania, and all socialist societies hitherto established. Hence the importance of Mao’s teachings on the eighth major relationship.

The ninth major relationship bears similar elements to the eighth in that it concerns dealing with incorrect views and practices in socialist society, particularly in the Party.  Mao says:  “A clear distinction must be made between right and wrong, whether inside or outside the Party. How to deal with people who have made mistakes is an important question.  The correct attitude towards them should be to adopt a policy of “learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones and curing the sickness to save the patient”, help them correct their mistakes and allow them to go on taking part in the revolution. In those days when the dogmatists headed by Wang Ming were in the saddle, our Party erred on this question, picking up the bad aspect of Stalin’s style of work. In society the dogmatists rejected the middle forces and inside the Party they did not allow people to correct their mistakes; they barred both from the revolution…A clear distinction must be drawn between right and wrong, for inner-Party controversies over principle are a reflection inside the Party of the class struggle in society, and no equivocation is to be tolerated.  It is normal, in accordance with the merits of the case, to mete out appropriate and well grounded criticism to comrades who have erred, and even to conduct necessary struggle against them; this is to help them correct mistakes. To deny them help and, what is worse, to gloat over their mistakes, is sectarianism…For revolution, it is always better to have more people…”37

Mao’s thesis here is practical, sensible, and has its foundation in the understanding of the dialectical law of the unity and contradiction of opposites.  Right and wrong things (progressive and reactionary things) will inevitably exist, especially within the Party.  They are in relation to each other in that the right exposes the wrong and the exposure of the wrong strengthens and enriches the right, and the wrong and its implications necessarily demonstrate validity of the right.  To attempt to eradicate and liquidate everything wrong at the moment of its emergence is to prevent the development of the right, and thus the development of the progressive nature of something.

Thus, Mao reminds us that we must fix our comrades’ and our own errors in practical and theoretical matters, and refrain from being overly harsh in our treatment of mistakes and mistaken comrades.  The alienation or rejection of comrades because of a mistake is unnecessary and harmful.

Such is the essence of the ninth major relationship which, although presented in a very theoretically abstract manner, necessarily has its distinct practical manifestations whose treatment require the same general attitude, and hence the importance of understanding it.

The final, tenth major relationship, is entitled “the relationship between other countries.”  Although an initial glance at the subject may lead one to think that such a relationship must certainly concern diplomacy, foreign relations, etc., Mao actually approached the relationship from a different angle.

Mao presents the tenth major relationship as a relationship between China’ backwardness and other countries’ more advanced levels of development.  He essentially calls for a critical assessment of other countries’ experience with the purpose of drawing lessons for China’s ensuing experience.

Mao says: “Our policy is to learn from the strong points of all nations and all countries, learn all that is genuinely good in the political, economic, scientific and technological fields and in literature and art.  But we must learn with an analytical and critical eye, not blindly, and we mustn’t copy everything indiscriminately and transplant mechanically.  Naturally, we musn’t pick up their shortcomings and weak points.  We should adopt the same attitude in learning from the experience of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries…We must firmly reject and criticize all bourgeois systems, ideologies, and ways of life of foreign countries.  But this should in no way prevent us from learning the advanced sciences and technologies of capitalist countries…All this should be learned well in accordance with our own principles in order to improve our work.”38

At a cursory glance, all of this may appear to be sensible, common-sense, basic stuff.  But through such a seemingly unprincipled notion, Mao in fact ties the problem of China learning from other countries (much like Lenin’s “learn from the capitalists”) into the notion of the scientific quality of Marxism-Leninism itself.

In its approach to learning from the advanced countries, Mao suggests that China must adhere to the theory of Marxism-Leninism precisely so that it may be able to embrace “principled flexibility.”  Mao says:  “Our theory is an integration of the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese Revolution.”39

Mao takes the question of Stalin for example.  He promotes commitment to objective analysis, which means not just recognizing mistakes, or just merits, but recognizing both achievements and shortcomings of Stalin as a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary and leader in order to draw lessons and conclusions.

Translating this manner of analyzing Stalin to the question of analyzing other countries’ experiences, Mao is thus brilliantly confirming in the case of the tenth major relationship the validity and absolutely indispensable scientific quality and capacity of the Marxist-Leninist outlook.  Without maintaining Marxism-Leninism, according to Mao, the People’s Republic of China cannot even begin to build itself into a powerful socialist country by doing such a basic thing as observing the strong points of other countries in the different fields of life in order to emulate such along socialist lines.

Having discussed the tenth major relationship, Mao concludes by reiterating the purpose of his exposition:  “I have taken up ten topics altogether. These ten relationships are all contradictions. The world consists of contradictions. Without contradictions the world would cease to exist. Our task is to handle these contradictions correctly. As to whether or not they can be resolved entirely to our satisfaction in practice, we must be prepared for either possibility; furthermore, in the course of resolving these contradictions we are bound to come up against new ones, new problems. But as we have often said, while the road ahead is tortuous, the future is bright. We must do our best to mobilize all positive factors, both inside and outside the Party, both at home and abroad, both direct and indirect, and make China a powerful socialist country.”40

Having arrived at the finish of an analysis of such ourselves by scrutinizing Mao’s On the Ten Major Relationships, we are compelled to conclude.  Mao’s On the Ten Major Relationships is an effective demonstration of the validity and effectiveness of Marxism-Leninism in analyzing the material world and devising theoretical summations on the basis of doing so.  Realizing this, On the Ten Major Relationships is a crucial contribution to the science of Marxism-Leninism in regards to the imperative task of analyzing the past, examining the difficult road we are treading, and looking ahead at the bright future for the purpose of carrying forward the cause of Marxism-Leninism, the cause of advancing the struggle for the emancipation of the world’s exploited and oppressed.  Certainly, while walking this road to the socialist and communist future, we must undoubtedly be holding a copy of On the Ten Major Relationships in our hand in the interest of successfully casting off the burden of capitalism and imperialism, and building a powerful socialist world by way of mastering the task of mobilizing all positive factors, both inside and outside our own efforts, both inside and outside our organizations, both inside and outside our locale of struggle, both direct and indirect in form.  The summations and points contained in the pages of On the Ten Major Relationships are undeniably invaluable contributions to the theory of Marxism-Leninism, and demonstrative examples of why Maoism is a further development and consolidation of scientific socialism.  On the Ten Major Relationships is a weapon in the hands of those fighting for emancipation and liberation.

1. V.I. Lenin.  Certain Features of the Historical Development of Marxism.  <;
2.Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 284.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid, pg. 285.
6.  J.V. Stalin.  The Tasks of Economic Executives in Problems of Leninism, Peking, 1976, pg. 528-529.
7.  Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.  Manifesto of the Communist Party. <>
8.  J.V. Stalin.  The Political Tasks of the University of the People’s of the East in Works Volume VII, Moscow, 1954, pg. 137.
9.  Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 288-289.
10.  J.V. Stalin.  The Party’s Tasks in On the Opposition, Peking,1974, pg. 18-19.
11.  David Stone.  Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933, University Press of Kansas, 2000, pg. 215.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid, pg. 112
14.  Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 288-289.
15.  Ibid. pg. 289.
16. Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik), International Publishers, New York, , pg. 341.
17.  Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 289.
18. J.V. Stalin.  Speech Delivered at the Eighth Congress of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League. <>
19.  Enver Hoxha. Report to the 6th Congress in Selected Works Volume IV, Tirana, 1982, pg. 732-733.
20.Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 290.
21. Ibid
22. Ibid
23.  V.I. Lenin.  The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government. <>
24.  Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 290.
25. Ibid, pg. 291.
26.  On the Incorrect Distribution of Revenues in the Kolkhozes (Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the U.S.S.R. and of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B)).  in J.V. Stalin’s Works Volume XIV, Red Star Press, London, pg. 339, 343-344.
27.  Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 291-292.
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid, pg. 292.
30. Ibid, pg. 292-293, 294.
31. Ibid, pg. 295.
32. Ibid.
33.  J.V. Stalin.  Marxism and the National Question in Marxism and the National and Colonial Question, University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu, 2003, pg. 20.
34. J.V. Stalin.  Theses on the Immediate Tasks of the Party in Connection with the National Problem in Marxism and the National and Colonial Question, University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu, 2003, pg. 93.
35. Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 296-297.
36. J. Werner.  Beat Back the Dogmato-Revisionist Attacks on Mao Tsetung Thought.<>
37.  Mao Tsetung. On the Ten Major Relationships in Selected Works Volume V, Peking, 1977, pg. 301-302.
38. Ibid, pg. 303, 305.
39. Ibid, pg. 304.
40. Ibid, pg. 306.


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