"The philosophy of the Communist Party is the philosophy of struggle." "Marxism can develop only through struggle, and not only is this true of the past and the present, it is necessarily true of the future as well."
Between 1949 and 1964, three major struggles of principle took place on China's philosophical front, centring around the question of China's economic base and superstructure, the question of whether there is identity between thinking and being, and the question of one divides into two or "combine two into one." These struggles were provoked one after another by Yang Xianzhen, agent of the renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shaoqi in philosophical circles, at crucial junctures in the struggle between the two classes (the proletariat and the bourgeoisie), the two roads (socialism and capitalism) and the two lines (Chairman Mao Zedong's proletarian revolutionary line and Liu Shaoqi's counter-revolutionary revisionist line). They were fierce struggles between dialectical materialism and historical materialism on the one hand and idealism and metaphysics on the other, and were a reflection on the philosophical front of the acute class struggle at home and abroad.
The founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 marked the basic conclusion of the stage of China's new-democratic revolution and the beginning of the stage of its socialist revolution. In his Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held in March 1949, our great leader Chairman Mao pointed out that after the countrywide victory of the Chinese revolution the basic contradiction in Chinese society was "the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie"; he urged the people to continue the revolution, strengthen the people's democratic dictatorship, i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat, and "build China into a great socialist state." At the end of 1952, Chairman Mao went further to formulate the general line for the period of transition: bringing about, step by step, the socialist industrialization of the country and the socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce.
Running counter to this, Liu Shaoqi openly opposed the spirit of the Second Plenary Session of the Party's Seventh Central Committee. As early as 1949, the year the session was held, he desperately preached the fallacy that "exploitation is a merit" and advocated the development of capitalism. Waving the tattered banner of the "theory of productive forces" after liberation, he dished up a sinister program for developing capitalism which called for "co-operation among the five sectors of the economy to consolidate the new-democratic system." This showed that he blatantly opposed the Party's general line for the period of transition.
At that moment of acute struggle between Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line and Liu Shaoqi's counter-revolutionary revisionist line, Yang Xianzhen, at the bidding of Liu Shaoqi, churned out the so-called theory of "synthesized economic base," thereby provoking the first big struggle on the philosophical front.
Yang Xianzhen claimed that the economic base during the period of transition was of a "synthesized nature," "including both the socialist sector and the capitalist sector of the economy" which "can develop in a balanced and co-ordinated way." He babbled that the socialist superstructure should, without discrimination, "serve the entire economic base," including the capitalist sector of the economy, and "also serve the bourgeoisie." This was the notorious theory of "synthesized economic base."
It is obvious that, in putting forward these reactionary absurdities, Yang Xianzhen obliterated the diametrical antagonism and struggle between the socialist economy and the capitalist economy, and denied the class nature of the superstructure, his aim being all-round class collaboration and class capitulation in all spheres, from the economic base to the superstructure. This was an attempt to change the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat in our country, oppose the establishment of a socialist economic base and perpetuate capitalism in China.
The theory of "synthesized economic base," which advocated the development of capitalism, was nothing new. It was just a variant of the "theory of productive forces" which old and new revisionists in China and other countries have held sacred for scores of years. According to this "theory," China must not carry out the socialist transformation of the private ownership of the means of production, it cannot go in for socialism but can only allow capitalism to spread unchecked, because its productive forces are backward and capitalism is not developed.
As soon as Yang Xianzhen trotted out his reactionary fallacy, he was dealt a head-on blow by the proletariat. Not reconciled to defeat, he concocted in 1955 an article entitled "On the Question of the Base and the Superstructure During the Transition Period in the People's Republic of China," preaching his theory of "synthesized economic base" more systematically than ever. When he sent his sinister article to Liu Shaoqi for examination, the latter openly supported him and said: "You are right," adding that private capitalism "is a component of the base."
Chairman Mao sternly criticized Liu Shaoqi's reactionary program of "co-operation among the five sectors of the economy to consolidate the new-democratic system," pointing out that its reactionary nature lay in its advocating the development of capitalism. Under the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought, the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production was basically completed in 1956 and the Party's general line for the period of transition was successfully implemented. Yang Xianzhen's theory of "synthesized economic base" not only went bankrupt theoretically but was thoroughly smashed by revolutionary practice.
"Revolution means liberating the productive forces." The socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production has greatly promoted the growth of productive forces. In 1958, Chairman Mao put forward the general line of going all out, aiming high and achieving greater, faster, better and more economical results in building socialism. Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, once grasped by the masses, becomes a material force capable of changing the world, a force under whose impact the entire old superstructure and ideology crumble. "So inspired, so militant and so daring," the Chinese people brought their conscious dynamic role and revolutionary initiative into full play, creating the new situation of the great leap forward in socialist construction and establishing the people's communes which are of great historic significance.
The swift, forceful development of revolution and construction scared the handful of Right opportunists out of their wits. Liu Shaoqi et al. jumped out and frenziedly attacked the general line, the great leap forward and the people's commune and slandered the revolutionary mass movements. They accused the Party of "subjective idealism" which "exaggerated man's conscious dynamic role." Taking his cue from Liu Shaoqi, Yang Xianzhen seized the opportunity and provoked a new battle in the field of philosophy by dishing up the theory that "there is no identity between thinking and being."
Yang Xianzhen arbitrarily declared: "Identity between thinking and being is an idealist proposition." He raved that "identity between thinking and being" and "dialectical identity" did not mean the same thing, that they belonged to "two different categories." Viciously distorting Marxism-Leninism, he tried to set the identity between thinking and being against the materialist theory of reflection, alleging that, with regard to the question of the relationship between thinking and being, "materialism uses the theory of reflection to solve it, while idealism solves it by means of identity."
Materialist dialectics teaches us that the law of the unity of opposites is universal. The identity of opposites, that is, their mutual dependence for existence and their transformation into each other, is undoubtedly applicable to the relationship between thinking and being. By denying the identity between thinking and being, Yang Xianzhen was denying that the two opposite aspects of the contradiction, thinking and being, depended on each other for their existence and could transform themselves into each other in given conditions. If Yang Xianzhen's assertion were true, the law of the unity of opposites as taught by dialectics would not be universal.
Yang Xianzhen metaphysically negated the interconnection between thinking and being, regarding them as absolute opposites. Thus he sank into dualism and, from there, into subjective idealism. He denied the dynamic role of revolutionary theory and opposed the revolutionary mass movement. He exaggerated the non-essential and secondary aspects of the revolutionary mass movement to the point of absurdity. He concentrated his attack on one point to the complete disregard of the rest, closing his eyes completely to the essence and the main aspects of the revolutionary mass movement. He even had no scruples to palm off his counter-revolutionary subjective perceptions as the objective reality. He did all this in a vain attempt to overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat and restore capitalism.
By denying the dialectical identity between thinking and being, Yang Xianzhen was, in the final analysis, opposed to arming the masses with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and using it to actively transform the world, that is to say, he was trying to hoodwink the masses with counter-revolutionary revisionist ideas and attempting to transform the world with the reactionary world outlook of the bourgeoisie. It was precisely this reactionary theory of Yang Xianzhen's that provided the "theoretical basis" for Liu Shaoqi's slavish comprador philosophy and his doctrine of trailing behind at a snail's pace.
Backed by Liu Shaoqi, Yang Xianzhen started preaching this reactionary theory in 1955. In 1957, he went so far as to flagrantly demand that those opposing his trash and consistently advocating the identity between thinking and being be labelled "Rightists." In 1958, he knocked together his sinister article "A Brief Discussion of Two Categories of 'Identity,'" branding as "subjective idealism" the scientific thesis that there is identity between thinking and being; then he ordered his men to write articles to propagate his reactionary theory. Chairman Mao sharply pointed out the reactionary essence of Yang Xianzhen's fallacy in October the same year, but the latter resisted for all he was worth. Also, when giving lectures in November 1958, Yang Xianzhen vilified the theory of the identity between thinking and being as "sheer nonsense and out-and-out reactionary theory." And between 1959 and 1964, in close co-ordination with Liu Shaoqi's counter-revolutionary activities for capitalist restoration, he repeatedly waged counter-attacks against Mao Zedong Thought on this particular question. But all these schemes fell apart one after another under the crushing blows from the proletariat.
In 1963, Chairman Mao wrote the well-known article “Where Do Correct Ideas Come From?” In it he penetratingly expounded the great truth that "matter can be transformed into consciousness and consciousness into matter," creatively developed the Marxist theory of knowledge and thoroughly criticized the bourgeois idealism and metaphysics of Liu Shaoqi, Yang Xianzhen and company, and made a scientific summation of the struggle centering around the question of the identity between thinking and being.
Not resigned to their defeat, Liu Shaoqi and company put up a last-ditch struggle. In 1964, Liu Shaoqi directed Yang Xianzhen to concoct the reactionary theory "combine two into one" in open opposition to Chairman Mao's revolutionary dialectics one divides into two. This gave rise to a struggle on a still wider scale.
That year, class struggle was very acute and complex within the country and on the international scene. In concert with the class enemies abroad in their blatant anti-China activities, Liu Shaoqi and his sort lost no time in trying to effect a capitalist restoration in China. Guided by Chairman Mao's theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Chinese people waged a tit-for-tat struggle against the class enemies both within and outside the country. They launched a socialist education movement at home and conducted open polemics with modern revisionism. That the reactionary theory "combine two into one" should make its appearance at this juncture completely met the counter-revolutionary needs of the class enemies at home and abroad.
Chairman Mao's brilliant thesis that one divides into two is a penetrating and concise generalization of the law of the unity of opposites; it is a great development of materialist dialectics.
Acknowledging that one divides into two means acknowledging the existence, in socialist society, of classes, class contradictions and class struggle, the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, the danger of capitalist restoration, and the threat of aggression and subversion by imperialism and social-imperialism. To resolve these contradictions, it is essential to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
However, the reactionary theory "combine two into one" advocated that "'combine two into one' applies to everything" and that the identity of opposites showed that the opposites had an "inseparable link," a "common ground" and a "common demand." This reactionary fallacy aimed at reconciling contradictions, liquidating struggle, negating transformation and opposing revolution. It was out-and-out bourgeois metaphysics and idealism. In essence, it wanted "combining" into one the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, revolution and counter-revolution; it opposed continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and tried to restore capitalism. It was the basis of Liu Shaoqi's theory of "the dying out of class struggle."
To peddle their reactionary wares, Yang Xianzhen et al. shouted that "too much has been said about 'one divides into two' and too little about 'combine two into one.'" They went out of their way to attack Chairman Mao's one divides into two, slandering it as "the philosophy of attacking people." But the ferociousness on the part of the reaction only hastened its total collapse. As soon as the theory "combine two into one" made its appearance, it met with crushing blows from the proletarian headquarters and the revolutionary masses. Chairman Mao personally led the struggle of criticizing this reactionary theory and pointed out in a clear-cut way that its core was revisionist class conciliation, thus sealing its doom.
The three major struggles on the philosophical front showed that the confrontation of the two opposing sides in this field has always been a reflection of class struggle and the struggle between the two lines, that it serves these struggles, and that we must not take the struggle in philosophy to be merely an "academic controversy." In frenziedly attacking dialectical materialism and historical materialism, spreading reactionary idealism and metaphysics and provoking one struggle after another, Liu Shaoqi, Yang Xianzhen and company were motivated by the vile attempt to shake the philosophical basis of Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line and create a "theoretical basis" for the counter-revolutionary revisionist line aimed at restoring capitalism.
The three major struggles on the philosophical front also told us that the struggle between the two lines is, in the final analysis, the struggle between the two world outlooks, the proletarian and the bourgeois. One's world outlook decides which line he defends and implements. In terms of world outlook, the root cause of the fact that Liu Shaoqi, Yang Xianzhen and their kind peddled the counter-revolutionary revisionist line was their bourgeois idealism and metaphysics. In order consciously to implement the proletarian revolutionary line, we must conscientiously study dialectical materialism and historical materialism in conjunction with the three great revolutionary movements of class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment, overcome the idealism and metaphysics in our minds and earnestly remold our world outlook; we must learn to distinguish genuine Marxism from false Marxism, and tell the correct line from an erroneous line.
The three major struggles in the field of philosophy all ended with resounding victories for Chairman Mao's philosophical thinking. But class struggle has not ended. The struggle between materialism and idealism and between dialectics and metaphysics will always go on. We must carry on deep-going revolutionary mass criticism of the idealism and metaphysics spread by Liu Shaoqi and other political swindlers, and eradicate whatever remains of their poisonous influence.