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Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University Students Assn. Volume 40, Number 1. May 23, 1977.

Bases of Conflict

Bases of Conflict

The underlying basis of Mao Tse-tung's thought on the socialist construction of China is that despite the backwardness, poverty and isolation of China, it is sufficient to rely on the appeal of the leader and the ideological fervour of the masses to propel the country forward into the ranks of great world powers. Liu Shao-chi and other leaders within the CCP, on the other hand, have tried to modify Mao's policies since their illusions in the past have been shattered by the realities of such policies. They tried to take into account the objective laws in the economy, attend to the immediate needs of the masses, and put more emphasis on science and technology.

The conflict manifested itself in a number of specific policies:

In 1958 Mao initiated the "Great Leap Forward" campaign to carry out the de-entcentralisation of industry and the establishment of backyard furnaces. Up to 100 million people were mobilised to carry out this programme. Later in the year, Mao ordered all peasants to enter People's Communes as fast as possible. The forced collectivisation included the appropriation of all private property including livestock, but the family institution was left untouched.

The results of the Great Leap and the Communes were deeply discouraging. Indigenous production methods entailed an enormous waste of materials and a high cost of operation, while yielding low quality products; agricultural production was adversely affected by technical and managerial problems, resulting in lower output. The Liuists grew increasingly critical of these policies; they felt that Mao was out of touch with reality trying to run the country with a guerrilla mentality.

Mao's policies on literature, art and education imposed an extremely tight control on the intellectuals, and the so called "modern operas" took the place of the traditional operas. Hence criticism continually arose among the cultural and educational workers. On the other hand, Liu in his report to the 8th Congress of the CCP emphasised that the party should not interfere arbitrarily in the work of scientists or artists.

Because of Liu's more tolerant position on these questions, most of the cadres in the cultural, educational and scientific fields sided with him against Mao. It was for this reason that Mao singled out the leaders among them as the first targets of attack in his Cultural Revolution.

Protesters and wreaths in Tien An Men Square during demonstration, April 5, 1976.

Protesters and wreaths in Tien An Men Square during demonstration, April 5, 1976.

During the discussion at the 8th Congress of the CCP on Khrushchev's 20th Congress speech in which he denounced Stalin's personality cult, Liu Shao-chi, Teng Hsiaoping and many other leaders voted their agreement. On Liu's initiative, the Congress proceeded to change the statutes by omitting all references to Mao Tse-tung's thought. Teng Hsiao-ping gave a report to motivate the change.