Modern History Sourcebook:
Mao Zedong: The People's Democratic Dictatorship
Mao gave the following speech on June 30, 1949, in commemoration
of the Chinese Communist Party's twentyeighth anniversary.
Communists the world over are wiser than the bourgeoisie, they
understand the laws governing the existence and development of
things, they understand dialectics and they can see farther The
bourgeoisie does not welcome this g truth because it does not
want to be overthrown.
As everyone knows, our Party passed through these twentyeight
years not in peace but amid hardships, for we had to fight enemies,
both foreign and domestic, both inside and outside the Party.
We thank Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin for giving us a weapon.
This weapon is not a machinegun~ but MarxlsmLeninisn,....
The Russians made the October Revolution and created the world's
first socialist state. Under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin,
the revolutionary energy of the great proletariat and labouring
people of Russia, hitherto latent and unseen by foreigners, suddenly
erupted like a volcano, and the Chinese and all mankind began
to see the Russians in a new light. Then, and only then, did the
Chinese enter an entirely new era in their thinking and their
life. They found MarxismLeninism, the universally applicable
truth, and the face of China began to change....
There are bourgeois republics in foreign lands, but China cannot
have a bourgeois republic because she is a country suffering under
imperialist oppression. The only way is through a people's republic
led by the working class....
Twentyfour years have passed since Sun Yatsen's death,
and the Chinese revolution, led by the Communist Party of China,
has made tremendous advances both in theory and practice and has
radically changed the face of China. Up to now the principal and
fundamental experience the Chinese people have gained is twofold:
- Internally, arouse the masses of the people. That is, unite
the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie
and the national bourgeoisie, form a domestic united front under
the leadership of the working class, and advance from this to
the establishment of a state which is a people's democratic dictatorship
under the leadership of the working class and based on the alliance
of workers and peasants.
- Externally, unite in a common struggle with those nations
of the world which treat us as equals and unite with the peoples
of all countries. That is, ally ourselves with the Soviet Union,
with the People's Democracies and with the proletariat and the
broad masses of the people in all other countries, and form an
international united front.
"You are leaning to one side." Exactly. The forty years'
experience of Sun Yatsen and the twentyeight years'
experience of the Communist Party have taught us to lean to one
side, and we are firmly convinced that in order to win victory
and consolidate it we must lean to one side. In the light of the
experiences accumulated in these forty years and these twentyeight
years, all Chinese without exception must lean either to the side
of imperialism or to the side of socialism. Sitting on the fence
will not do, nor is there a third road.
We oppose the Chiang Kaishek
reactionaries who lean to the side of imperialism, and we also
oppose the illusions about a third road.
"You are too irritating." We are talking about how to
deal with domestic and foreign reactionaries, the imperialists
and their running dogs, not about how to deal with anyone else.
With regard to such reactionaries, the question of irritating
them or not does not arise. Irritated or not irritated, they will
remain the same because they are reactionaries. Only if we draw
a clear line between reactionaries and revolutionaries, expose
the intrigues and plots of the reactlonaries, arouse the vigilance
and attention of the revolutionary ranks, heighten our will to
fight and crush the enemy's arrogance can we Isolate the reactionaries,
vanquish them or supersede them. We must not show the slightest
timidity before a wild beast.
"Victory is possible even without international help."
This is a mistaken idea. In the epoch in which imperialism exists,
it is impossible for a genuine people's revolution to win victory
in any country without various forms of help from the international
revolutionary forces, and even if victory were won, it could not
be consolidated. This was the case with the victory and consolidation
of the great October Revolution, as Lenin and Stalin told us long
"We need help from the British and U.S. governments."
This, too, is a naive idea in these times. Would the present rulers
of Britain and the United States, who are imperialists, help a
people's state? Why do these countries do business with us and,
supposing they might be willing to lend us money on terms of mutual
benefit in the future, why would they do so? Because their capitalists
want to make money and their bankers want to earn interest to
extricate themselves from their own crisis-it is not a matter
of helping the Chinese people.
"You are dictatorial." My dear sirs, you are right,
that is just what we are All the experience the Chinese people
have accumulated through several decades teaches us to enforce
the people's democratic dictatorship, that is, to deprive the
reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have
"Who are the people?" At the present stage in China,
they are the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie
and the national bourgeoisie. These classes, led by the working
class and the Communist Party unite to form their own state and
elect their own government they enforce their dictatorship over
the running dogs of imperialism-the landlord class and bureaucratbourgeoisie,
as well as the representatives of those classes, the Kuomintang
reactionaries and their accomplices-suppress them, allow them
only to behave themselves and not to be unruly in word or deed.
If they speak or act in an unruly way, they will be promptly stopped
and punished. Democracy is practised within the ranks of the people,
who enjoy the rights of freedom of speech, assembly, association
and so on. The right to vote belongs only to the people, not to
the reactionaries. The combination of these two aspects, democracy
for the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries, is the
people's democratic dictatorship.
"Why must things be done this way?" The reason is quite
clear to everybody. If things were not done this way, the revolution
would fail, the people would suffer, the country would be conquered.
"Don't you want to abolish state power?" Yes, we do,
but not right now; we cannot do it yet. Why? Because imperialism
still exists, because domestic reaction still exists, because
classes still exist in our country. Our present task is to strengthen
the people's state apparatus-mainly the people's army, the people's
police and the people's courts-in order to consolidate national
defence and protect the people's interests. Given this condition,
China can develop steadily, under the leadership of the working
class and the Communist Party, from an agricultural into an industrial
country and from a new-democratic into a socialist and communist
society, can abolish classes and realize the Great Harmony. The
state apparatus, Including the army, the police and the courts,
is the instrument by which one class oppresses another It is an
instrument for the oppression of antagonistic classes; it is violence
and not "benevolence". "You are not benevolent!"
Quite so We definitely do not apply a policy of benevolence to
the reactionaries and towards the reactionary activities of the
reactionary classes. Our policy of benevolence is applied only
within the ranks of the people, not beyond them to the reactionaries
or to the reactionary activities of reactionary classes....
Here, the method we employ is democratic, the method of persuasion,
not of compulsion. When anyone among the people breaks the law,
he too should be punished, imprisoned or even sentenced to death;
but this is a matter of a few individual cases, and it differs
in principle from the dictatorship exercised over the reactionaries
as a class.
As for the members of the reactionary classes and individual reactionaries,
so long as they do not rebel, sabotage or create trouble after
their political power has been overthrown, land and work will
be given to them as well in order to allow them to live and remould
themselves through labour into new people. If they are not willing
to work, the people's state will compel them to work....
Such remoulding of members of the reactionary classes can be accomplished
only by a state of the people's democratic dictatorship under
the leadership of the Communist Party. When it is well done, China's
major exploiting classes, the landlord class and the bureaucratbourgeoisie
(the monopoly capitalist class), will be eliminated for good.
There remain the national bourgeoisie; at the present stage, we
can already do a good deal of suitable educational work with many
of them. When the time comes to realize socialism, that is, to
nationalize private enterprise, we shall carry the work of educating
and remoulding them a step further. The people have a powerful
state apparatus in their hands-there is no need to fear rebellion
by the national bourgeoisie....
The people's democratic dictatorship is based on the alliance
of the working class, the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie,
and mainly on the alliance of the workers and the peasants, because
these two classes comprise 80 to 90 per cent of China's population.
These two classes are the main force in overthrowing imperialism
and the Kuomintang reactionaries. The transition from New Democracy
to socialism also depends mainly upon their alliance.
The people's democratic dictatorship needs the leadership of the
working class. For it is only the working class that is most farsighted,
most selfless and most thoroughly revolutionary. The entire history
of revolution proves that without the leadership of the working
class revolution triumphs. In the epoch of imperialism, in no
country can any other class lead any genuine revolution to victory.
This is clearly proved by the fact that the many revolutions led
by China's petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie all failed....
To sum up our experience and concentrate it into one point, it
is: the people's democratic dictatorship under the leadership
of the working class (through the Communist Party) and based upon
the alliance of workers and peasants. This dictatorship must unite
as one with the international revolutionary forces. This is our
formula, our principal experience, our main programme. ...
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union is our best teacher and
we must learn from it. The situation both at home and abroad is
in our favour we can rely fully on the weapon of the people's
democratic dictatorship, unite the people throughout the country,
the reactionaries excepted, and advance steadily to our goal.
From Mao Zedong (Mao Tsetung), Speech "In Commemoration
of the 28th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China, June
30, 1949," in Selected Works, vol. 5 (New York: International
Publishers, n.d.), pp. 411423.
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997