The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China

GPCR in Sining, Chinghai Province

GPCR in Sining, Chinghai Province

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The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China was the logical outcome of the many years of the increasingly bitter ideological struggle that had been taking place within the International Communist Movement since Khrushchev’s denunciation of Joseph Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1956.

There had been many efforts (some would say too many) to try and bring the errant first Socialist State back to the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism but by 1960 it was becoming obvious that the revisionists had become firmly entrenched in Lenin‘s and Stalin‘s Party. Weaknesses (and the similar entrenchment of revisionism and social democracy) in other Communist and Workers’ Parties worldwide also ensured that those seeking to restore capitalism – in deeds if not in words – in the Soviet Union could claim they were only reflecting the majority trend in the International Communist Movement.

Although the majority of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party was still following the revolutionary road those ‘capitalist-roaders’ (as they were called in China) did exist – and even at the highest levels in the Party.

Those revolutionaries, under the leadership of Chairman Mao Tse-tung, had to act to prevent China from going down the same anti-Socialist road. It would be for the Chinese workers, peasants, soldiers and students to decide the fate of their country. So, on 8th August 1966, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was born – one of the most important and significant events in the history of Communism.

Basic Documents of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, adopted on Aug. 8, 1966, 20 pages. [This famous Circular of the Central Committee of the CCP was drawn up under Mao’s guidance and presents the 16 key points established to guide the GPCR.]

An Epoch-Making Document – In Commemoration of the Second Anniversary of the Publication of the Circular, May 17, 1968, 28 pages.

The Great Socialist [Proletarian] Cultural Revolution Series (1966-1967):

The Great Socialist Cultural Revolution in China (1), 2nd ed. (Peking: FLP, Oct. 1966), 78 pages. Includes these articles:

  • Hold High the Great Red Banner of Mao Tse-tung’s Thought and Actively Participate in the Great Socialist Cultural Revolution, editorial of the Liberation Army Daily [Jiefangjun Bao], April 18, 1966.
  • Never Forget the Class Struggle, editorial of the Liberation Army Daily, May 4 1966.
  • On ‘Three-Family Village’ — The Reactionary Nature of Evening Chats at Yenshan and Notes from Three-Family Village, by Yao Wen-yuan, May 10, 1966.

The Great Socialist Cultural Revolution in China (2), (Peking: FLP, 1966), 68 pages. Includes these articles:

  • Open Fire at the Black Anti-Party and Anti-Socialist Line!, by Kao Chu, first published in the Liberation Army Daily, May 8, 1966.
  • Heighten Our Vigilance and Distinguish the True from the False, by Ho Ming, first published in the Kuangming Daily, May 8, 1966.
  • Teng To’s Evening Chats at Yenshan is Anti-Party and Anti-Socialist Double-Talk, compiled by Lin Chieh, Ma Tse-min, Yen Chang-huei, Chou Ying, Teng Wen-sheng and Chin Tien-Liang, first published in the Liberation Army Daily and the Kuangming Daily on May 8, 1966.
  • On the Bourgeois Stand of Frontline and the Peking Daily, by Chi Pen-yu, first published in Red Flag, No. 7, 1966.

The Great Socialist Cultural Revolution in China (3), (Peking: FLP, 1966), 32 pages. Includes these articles:

  • Sweep Away All Monsters, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], June 1, 1966.
  • A Great Revolution That Touches People to Their Very Souls, editorial of Renmin Ribao, June 2, 1966.
  • Mao Tse-tung’s Thought is the Telescope and Microscope of Our Revolutionary Cause, editorial of Jiefangjun Bao [Liberation Army Daily], June 7, 1966.
  • We are Critics of the Old World, editorial of Renmin Ribao, June 8, 1966.

The Great Socialist Cultural Revolution in China (4), (Peking: FLP, 1966), 56 pages, Includes these articles:

  • Long Live the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, editorial of Hongqi [Red Flag], No. 8, 1966.
  • Capture the Positions in the Field of Historical Studies Seized by the Bourgeoisie, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], June 3, 1966.
  • Tear Aside the Bourgeois Mask of ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’, editorial of Renmin Ribao, June 4, 1966.
  • New Victory for Mao Tse-tung’s Thought, editorial of Renmin Ribao, June 4, 1966.
  • To Be Proletarian Revolutionaries or Bourgeois Royalists?, editorial of Renmin Ribao, June 5, 1966.

The Great Socialist Cultural Revolution in China (5), (Peking: FLP, 1966), 36 pages, pamphlet with just one article:

  • Raise High the Great Red Banner of Mao Tse-tung’s Thought and Carry the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Through to the End — Essential Points for Propaganda and Education in Connection with the Great Cultural Revolution, editorial of Jiefangjun Bao [Liberation Army Daily], June 6, 1966.

The Great Socialist Cultural Revolution in China (6), (Peking: FLP, 1966), 32 pages. Includes these articles:

  • A New Stage of the Socialist Revolution in China, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], July 17, 1966.
  • The Sunlight of the Party Illuminates the Road of the Great Cultural Revolution, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], June 24, 1966.
  • Trust the Masses, Rely on the Masses, editorial of Hongqi [Red Flag], No. 9, 1966.
  • From the Masses, to the Masses, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], July 21, 1966.
  • Be a Pupil of the Masses Before You Become a Teacher of the Masses, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], July 29, 1966.

The Great Socialist Cultural Revolution in China (7), (Peking: FLP, 1967), 36 pages. Includes these articles:

  • The Programmatic Document of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, editorial of Hongqi [Red Flag], No. 10, 1966.
  • Master the Ideological Weapon of the Great Cultural Revolution, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], Aug. 11, 1966.
  • Study the 16-Point Decision, Know it Well and Apply It, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], Aug. 13, 1966.
  • Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], Aug. 15, 1966.
  • Revolutionary Youth Should Learn from the People’s Liberation Army, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], Aug. 28, 1966.
  • Hold Fast to the Main Orientation in the Struggle, editorial of Hongqi [Red Flag], No. 12, 1966.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China (8), (Peking: FLP, 1967), 28 pages. Includes these articles:

  • Comrade Lin Piao’s Speech at the Peking Mass Rally to Receive Revolutionary Teachers and Students From All Over China, Nov. 3, 1966.
  • Victory for the Proletarian Revolutionary Line Represented by Chairman Mao, editorial in Hongqi, No. 14, 1966.
  • Seize New Victories, editorial in Hongqi, No. 15, 1966.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China (9), (Peking: FLP, 1967), 28 pages, pamphlet with just one article:

  • Carry the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Through to the End, editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily] and Hongqi [Red Flag], Jan. 1, 1967.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China (10), (Peking: FLP, 1967), 48 pages. Includes these articles:

  • Message of Greetings to Revolutionary Rebel Organizations in Shanghai from the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, the State Council, the Military Commission of the Party’s Central Committee and the Cultural Revolution Group Under the Party’s Central Committee, Jan. 11, 1967.
  • Take Firm Hold of the Revolution, Promote Production and Utterly Smash the New Counterattack Launched by the Bourgeois Reactionary Line – Message to All Shanghai People, Jan. 4, 1967. Urgent Notice – From the Shanghai Workers’ Revolutionary Rebel General Headquarters and 31 Other Revolutionary Mass Organizations, Jan. 9, 1967.
  • Telegram Saluting Chairman Mao – From the Rally Held by the Revolutionary Rebel Organizations of Shanghai and the Shanghai Liaison Centres of Revolutionary Rebel Organizations of Other Places to Celebrate the Message of Greetings of the Central Authorities and Completely Smash the New Counter-Attack by the Bourgeois Reactionary Line, from a rally held by revolutionary organizations in Shanghai, Jan. 12, 1967.
  • Oppose Economist and Smash the Latest Counterattack by the Bourgeois Reactionary Line – Editorial of Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily] and Hongqi [Red Flag], January 12, 1967.
  • Proletarian Revolutionaries, Unite, by Commentator, Hongqi, No. 2, 1967.

Other

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Pamphlets:

1966:

Mao Tse-tung’s Thought is the Invincible Weapon, four articles from 1966, 87 pages. (Peking: FLP, 1968)

1967:

The May Upheaval in Hongkong, by the Committee of Hongkong-Kowloon Chinese Compatriots of All Circles for the Struggle Against Persecution by the British Authorities in Hongkong, (Hongkong: 1967), 191 pages. About the extension of the Cultural Revolution to Hongkong.

Follow Chairman Mao and Advance in the Teeth of Great Storms and Waves, article about Mao’s famous swim in the Yangtse along with editorials from Renmin Ribao and Jiefangjun Bao, July 24-26, 1966, 28 pages. (Peking: FLP, 1967)

Forward Along the High Road of Mao Tse-tung’s Thought — In Celebration of the 17th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China, including editorials and speeches by Lin Piao and Chou En-lai on Oct. 1, 1966, 42 pages. (Peking: FLP, 1967) PDF format [2,031 KB].

Betrayal of Proletarian Dictatorship is the Heart of the Book on ‘Self-Cultivation’, by the editorial departments of Renmin Ribao and Hongqi, May 8, 1967, 24 pages. (Peking: FLP, 1967)

Patriotism or National Betrayal? – On the Reactionary Film Inside Story of the Ching Court, by Chi Pen-yu, 44 pages. Original Chinese version in Hongqi #5, 1967. (Peking: FLP, 1967)

Great Victory for Chairman Mao’s Revolutionary Line – Warmly Hail the Birth of Peking Municipal Revolutionary Committee, including speeches by Chou En-lai, Chiang Ching, Hsieh Fu-chih, Chang Chun-chiao and editorials from Renmin Ribao and Jifangjun Bao, (Peking: FLP, 1967), 60 pages.

Commemorating Lu Hsun – Our Forerunner in the Cultural Revolution, a collection of speeches and articles on the 30th anniversary of the death of Lu Hsun, including speeches by Chen Po-ta, Yao Wen-yuan, Kuo Mo-jo and others, (Peking: FLP, 1967), 68 pages.

The Struggle Between the Two Roads in China’s Countryside, by the editorial departments of Renmin Ribao, Hongqi and Jifangjun Bao, Nov. 23, 1967, 36 pages. (Peking: FLP, 1968)

1968:

Take the Road of the Shanghai Machine Tools Plant in Training Technicians from among the Workers – Two Investigation Reports on the Revolution in Education in Colleges of Science and Engineering, by the editorial departments of Renmin Ribao and Hongqi, 68 pages. (Peking: FLP, 1968)

On the Revolutionary ‘Three-in-One’ Combination, four editorials by Hongqi, Jiefangjun Bao, or Wenhui Bao in the first half of 1967, 48 pages. (Peking: FLP, 1968)

On the Re-Education of Intellectuals, by Renmin Ribao and Hongqi Commentators, originally in Hongqi, #3, 1968. (Peking: FLP, 1968), 20 pages.

Absorb Proletarian Fresh Blood – An Important Question in Party Consolidation, Hongqi [Red Flag] editorial, #4, Oct. 14, 1968. (Peking: FLP, 1968), 34 pages.

1969:

Put Mao Tse-tung’s Thought in Command of Everything, New Year editorial for 1969 by Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], Hongqi [Red Flag] and Jiefangjun Bao [Liberation Army Daily]. (Peking: FLP, 1969), 39 pages.

Grasp Revolution, Promote Production and Win New Victories on the Industrial Front, Renmin Ribao editorial, Feb. 21, 1969. (Peking: FLP, 1969), 26 pages.

Carry the Great Revolution on the Journalistic Front Through to the End — Repudiating the Counter-Revolutionary Revisionist Line on Journalism of China’s Khrushchov, by the editorial departments of Renmin Ribao, Hongqi and Jifangjun Bao. (Peking: FLP, 1969), 74 pages.

Hold Aloft the Banner of Unity of the Party’s Ninth Congress and Win Still Greater Victories, editorial of Renmin Ribao, Hongqi and Jifangjun Bao, June 9, 1969. (Peking: FLP, 1969), 26 pages.

Fight for the Further Consolidation of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat – In Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China. Includes speeches by Lin Piao and Chou En-lai, an editorial, and slogans for the celebration. (Peking: FLP, 1969), 54 pages.

1970:

Usher In the Great 1970’s, 1970 New Year’s Day editorial of Renmin Ribao, Hongqi and Jiefangjun Bao. (Peking: FLP, 1970), 34 pages.

Take the Road of Integrating with the Workers, Peasants and Soldiers, on the orientation of the youth movement. (Peking: FLP, 1970), 105 pages.

Communists Should Be the Advanced Elements of the Proletariat – In Commemoration of the 49th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China. (Peking: FLP, 1970), 20 pages.

1971:

Outstanding Proletarian Fighters, about outstanding proletarian revolutionaries arising in all walks of life in China. (Peking: FLP, 1971), 101 pages.

To Trumpet Bourgeois Literature and Art is to Restore Capitalism – A Repudiation of Chou Yang’s Reactionary Fallacy Adulating the ‘Renaissance’, the ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘Critical Realism’ of the Bourgeoisie, by the Shanghai Writing Group for Revolutionary Mass Criticism, (Peking: FLP, 1971), 53 pages.

1972:

Strive to Build a Socialist University of Science and Engineering, about the Cultural Revolution in education. (Peking: FLP, 1972), 85 pages. In addition to the title article by the Workers’ and PLA Men’s Mao Tsetung Thought Propaganda Team at Tsinghua University, this pamphlet also includes the Summary of the Forum on the Revolution in Education in Shanghai Colleges of Science and Engineering convened by Chang Chun-chiao an Yao Wen-yuan in Shanghai, June 2, 1970.

Strive for New Victories, in Celebration of the 23rd Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China, editorial by Renmin Ribao, Hongqi and Jiefangjun Bao, (Peking: FLP, 1972), 18 pages.

1974:

A Vicious Motive, Despicable Tricks – A Criticism of M. Antonioni’s Anti-China Film China, by Renmin Ribao Commentator, Jan. 30, 1974. (Peking: FLP, 1974), 23 pages.

1976:

A Summary of the Opinions of the Inner-Party Bourgeoisie Issues, a Guangzhou area regional CCP document which was reprinted by the Publicity Department of Zhongshan County Committee of the CCP, and which is based on theoretical seminar materials and also the relevant articles of some university journals. It is only to promote further discussion and study by comrades on the inner-party bourgeoisie issue. (July 8, 1976), 14 pages. This document is especially interesting in that it is in part a late period summary of the central aspects of the entire GPCR. It consists of the following six sections:

  • Chairman Mao’s scientific assertion that the bourgeoisie emerged within the Communist Party is a major development of Marxism-Leninism
  • On how to understand the problem that the bourgeoisie is just in the Communist Party
  • On the question of changes in class relations during the socialist period
  • On the root causes of the bourgeoisie within the party
  • About the characteristics of the bourgeoisie within the party and the contradictory nature of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie within the party
  • Recognition and struggle against the bourgeoisie in the party

(An English translation should be available soon.)

Collections of Documents from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution:

Important Documents on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, which consists mostly of speeches by Lin Piao [Lin Biao]. Pocket edition with red plastic cover. (Peking: FLP, 1970), 350 pages.

And Mao Makes 5: Mao Tse-tung’s last great battle, edited with an Introduction by Raymond Lotta, (Chicago: Banner Press, September 1978), 539 pages.

Contents:

Introduction:

Section I: Background to the Struggle:

Section II: Criticize Lin Piao and Confucius:

  • Section II Intro:
  • Text 5: Carry the Struggle to Criticize Lin Piao and Confucius Through to the End
  • Text 6: Dare to Think and Do
  • Text 7: Study the Historical Experience of the Struggle Between the Confucian and Legalist Schools, by Liang Hsiao
  • Text 8: The Philosophy of the Communist Party is the Philosophy of Struggle, by Chiang Yu-ping
  • Text 9: Working Women’s Struggle Against Confucianism in Chinese History
  • Text 10: To Develop Industry We Must Initiate Technical Innovation, by Kung Hsiao-wen
  • Text 11: Has Absolute Music No Class Character?, by Chao Hua
  • Text 12: A Decade of Revolution in Peking Opera, by Chu Lan
  • Text 13: History Develops in Spirals, by Hung Yu
  • Text 14: Speech at Peking Rally Welcoming Cambodian Guests, by Wang Hung-wen

Section III: Fourth People’s Congress and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat Campaign:

Section IV: Criticize Water Margin:

  • Section IV Intro:
  • Text 22: Unfold Criticism of ‘Water Margin’
  • Text 23: Criticism of ‘Water Margin’, by Chu Fang-ming
  • Text 24: On Teng Hsiao-ping’s Counter-Revolutionary Offensive in Public Opinion (Excerpts), by Hung Hsuan

Section V: Criticize Teng and Beat Back the Right Deviationist Wind:

  • Section V Intro:
  • Text 25: Two Poems, by Mao Tse-tung
  • Text 26: Reversing Correct Verdicts Goes Against the Will of the People
  • Text 27: Counter-Revolutionary Political Incident at Tien An Men Square
  • Text 28: Communist Party of China Resolutions
  • Text 29: Firmly Keep to the General Orientation of the Struggle
  • Text 30: A General Program for Capitalist Restoration, by Cheng Yueh
  • Text 31: Criticism of Selected Passages of ‘Certain Questions on Accelerating the Development of Industry’
  • Text 32: Comments on Teng Hsiao-ping’s Economic Ideas of the Comprador Bourgeoisie, by Kao Lu and Chang Ko
  • Text 33: A New Type of Production Relations in a Socialist Enterprise
  • Text 34: Fundamental Differences Between the Two Lines in Education
  • Text 35: Repulsing the Right Deviationist Wind in the Scientific and Technological Circles
  • Text 36: What Is the Intention of People of the Lin Piao Type in Advocating ‘Private Ownership of Knowledge’?, by Liang Hsiao
  • Text 37: A Reactionary Philosophy That Stands on Its Head, by Hung Yu
  • Text 38: From Bourgeois Democrats to Capitalist-Roaders, by Chih Heng
  • Text 39: Capitalist-Roaders Are the Bourgeoisie Inside the Party, by Fang Kang
  • Text 40: Capitalist-Roaders Are Representatives of the Capitalist Relations of Production, by Chuang Lan
  • Text 41: Talks Concerning ‘Criticizing Teng Hsiao-ping and Repulsing Right Deviationist Wind’, by Chang Chun-chiao
  • Text 42: Deepen the Criticism of Teng Hsiao-ping in Anti-Quake and Relief Work
  • Text 43: Proletarians Are Revolutionary Optimists, by Pi Sheng

Biographical Material on the Four: 13 pages of photographs

Appendices: Documents from the Right:

  • Introduction:
  • Appendix 1: On the General Program of Work for the Whole Party and Whole Nation
  • Appendix 2: Some Problems in Accelerating Industrial Development
  • Appendix 3: On Some Problems in the Fields of Science and Technology
  • Appendix 4: Two Talks by Teng Hsiao-ping
  • Appendix 5: The Bitter Fruit of Maoism, by Y. Semyonov
  • Appendix 6: Speech at Special Session of UN General Assembly, by Teng Hsiao-ping
  • Appendix 7: A Complete Reversal of the Relations Between Ourselves and the Enemy, by Hsiang Chun
  • Appendix 8: CPC Central Committee Circular on Holding National Science Conference
  • Appendix 9: To Each According to His Work: Socialist Principle in Distribution, by Li Hung-lin

CCP Documents of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: 1966-67, (Hong Kong: Union Research Institute), 1967 [?], 361 pages. This work included the original Chinese language documents plus the English translations. This version, however, only includes the English translations.

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The ‘East is Red Square’ Nanjiecun

The East is Red Square, Nanjiecun

The East is Red Square, Nanjiecun

Nanjiecun (South Street Village) is in Linying County, Henan Province in the central part of the People’s Republic of China. What makes this place special (with a population of no more than 13,000 people) is the fame it has achieved as being ‘the last Maoist Commune in China.’ 

Whether it’s really possible for such a small place to maintain a Socialist Revolution is more than questionable, having to depend upon both loans from the Chinese capitalist banks as well as external, Japanese, investment. It can really be no more than a tolerated anomaly, a curiosity or a tourist theme park. If it ever posed a threat to the present day ‘capitalist roaders’ in Beijing then Nanjiecun would be crushed, both literally and figuratively, out of existence. 

The fact that Nanjiecun exists (as does the politics and the actions of its people in the village of Marinaleda, in southern Spain) only goes to show the limitations of a small group of people attempting to build something better in a huge ocean of exploitation and oppression. Their efforts may be applauded and, at times, admired but we should never forget that to extend such ‘experiments’ demands the destruction of the present capitalist structure and until that is achieved (on a long-term, multi-generational basis) all is but chimera.

However, the merits or otherwise of Nanjiecun are not the subject of this post. A proper analysis of what has happened there – and why only there – since the destruction of Socialism in China would need a thorough study to understand why the Chinese people, in general, have rejected a past where the potential for the betterment of all has been rejected for the benefit and advancement of a relatively few corrupt thieves who are now some of the richest people int he world. It would also require a proper analysis of how we actually measure ‘poverty’. Capitalist standards are only concerned with ‘things’ and not the, sometimes, financially unquantifiable social capital that Socialism brings – the ‘iron rice bowl’ in the Chinese context.

No, this post is concerned with a single area of this present day commune – The East is Red Square.

In the Socialist societies in Europe (including the Soviet Union) the Communist Parties sought to commemorate the revolutionary past (and present) with statues. (One of the fallen statues, of Frederick Engels, from the Ukraine has even been recently installed anew in Manchester.) This preponderance of statues was not the case – at least to the same extent – in China. Yes, there were innumerable posters of Chairman Mao and his image was everywhere, on posters, in paintings and on the badges worn by most of the population. However, statues as such were relatively few. This means that when a statue has been installed – at the same time as the renegades within the Communist Party of China are going further and further away from Chairman Mao’s ideas – there’s always a story behind the decision, although sometimes that story might be difficult to find.

The large statue of Chairman Mao in front of the railway station in Dandong (the principal border crossing point between China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is a case in point. So far I have failed to find out any information of why or when.

The situation is clearer in Nanjiecun.

The people in the village decided to reject and roll back the ‘de-collectivisation’ and privatisation that was becoming the norm in China with Deng Xiaoping’s claim that ‘to get rich is glorious’. Selfishness, that had been challenged in the years following Mao’s declaration of the People’s Republic in 1949, was turned into a virtue and the predominantly peasant population of the country fell back into the insularity and individuality of their backward, pre-revolutionary, rural culture. 

Nanjiecun’s ‘experiment’ must have been relatively successful in the 1980s as there was enough surplus for them to pay for the installation of a large statue of Chairman Mao in what is now known as ‘The East is Red Square’. The statue was erected in 1993 and I assume it was inaugurated on the 26th December – the centenary of Chairman Mao’s birth.

At some time in the next decade the four large portraits of the ‘greats’ of Marxism-Leninism – Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Joseph Stalin – were added to the monumentality of the square. (I, personally, would have added a fifth – Enver Hoxha of Albania – but I know a number of Maoists would not agree.)

There’s always a potential problem when it comes to Socialist art – nuance can be everything. To give an idea of how this is an issue I’ll refer to capitalist commentators who can ‘see’ subversion in a painting or a musical score produced in the Soviet Union that went unnoticed by the authorities (i.e., the ‘intellectuals’ were too clever for the ‘stupid’ Communists) only seconds after arguing that art is ‘apolitical’ and that capitalist art doesn’t aim to perpetuate the system. It’s not their analysis I dislike and detest – it’s their crass hypocrisy

I’ve always argued that art IS political and so it’s valid to critically evaluate any new monuments or ‘celebrations’ of the past (in whatever form they might take place) that might be appearing in China. As the present leader, Deng IV, seems to be attempting to take on some of the trappings of Mao – stripped of any revolutionary, Communist ideology – this might become an issue in the not too distant future.

It’s possible to attack Mao by praising Mao – this was something that took place during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. After attacking the so-called ‘personality cult’ of Mao from the late 1970s those enemies of Maoism could well create a new ‘personality cult’ of Mao based solely on the person.

Chairman Mao in Dandong

Chairman Mao in Dandong

The Chinese Revisionists and Counter-revolutionaries have been unable to achieve the same rejection of Mao as happened in the Soviet Union with Lenin and Stalin or in Albania with Hoxha. Mao is still seen in China, by the overwhelming majority of the population, as a great Chinese leader – millions still queue every year to visit the Mao Mausoleum in Tienanmen Square in Beijing. It’s possible, therefore, that those who seek to establish greater legitimacy and maintain their hold on power will try to play the nationalist card and turn Mao into a purely ‘Chinese’ personality – the antithesis of how Mao would have seen his achievements – thus turning the country inward. This is not that far-fetched as it might seem as the level of nationalistic fervour has been stoked up in recent years to justify China’s imperialistic ambitions.

All this doesn’t accept what made Mao great in the first place – that was the taking of Marxism-Leninism, applying it in the Chinese context and by learning from both the success and mistakes of the past Socialist revolutions developing the theory of the Cultural Revolution and taking Marxism to a new level, (although becoming a bit of a mouthful) to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

The statue of Mao in Dandong is one such example of this new, depoliticised, depiction of the great Chinese leader. There’s nothing on, or around, the statue which refers to what made him such a great leader in the first place, his uniqueness as a leader of the world proletariat and peasantry – his being a revolutionary Communist. It’s a great statue but you get the impression that, like the statues of the Roman Emperors, you could just replace the head with whoever was in power at the time and there would be no real difference. As it stands at the moment it’s just a statue of a 60 year old wearing a big overcoat who, for some unknown reason, has his right hand raised and pointing to some unknown location in front of him.

The statue of Mao in Nanjiecun doesn’t suffer from that defect. Coming from those who knew the importance of the politics, of the necessity of a Communist Party, of the necessity of a revolutionary ideology, all these attributes are represented in the statue itself in a very simple and almost unobtrusive manner, but there nonetheless, – and that’s the star on the cap he holds in his hand.

The Red Star

The Red Star

As I’ve written in a number of posts about the Albanian lapidars (such as the mosaic on the Historical Museum, the mosaic of Bestrove, the Durres monument to the anti-Fascist struggle, amongst others) where the star has often been the target of the fascists and reactionaries – eradicate that and they think they can eradicate Communist politics. So including it in a ‘new’ monument the people of Nanjiecun made their own political statement.

That political statement was made even stronger with the addition of the four portraits of the Marxist ‘Greats’. Whether whoever designed the layout of the square considered how it would look when completed what we have now is a history of the development of Marxism thought through; successes and failures; revolutions and counter-revolutions; twists and turns; suffering and sacrifice; elation and despair, to arrive at where we are now with Maoism being the pinnacle of the development of the revolutionary theory of the working class. We are not in a situation that we would have wished just over a hundred years after the October Revolution of 1917 but we are where we are. At least the revolutionary theory has moved forward. Whether we make the most use of all that history is another matter.

In a sense the statue and portraits in The East is Red Square are in a bit of a time warp – that of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Mao’s image is of what he would have looked like in the mid 1960s and the paintings of the four Marxists are almost exact copies of the coloured posters that were available throughout the world from the late 1960s until the counter-revolutionary coup of Deng and his goons after the death of the Chairman in September 1976.

JV Stalin

JV Stalin

The portraits are behind Mao as he looks to the east. In front of him, on either side, are two large billboards with a lot of text in Chinese characters. (In fact for a Socialist political monument there’s a lot of text full stop – including on the plinth upon which Mao stands. Although unusual it shows the level of literacy that the Socialist state had achieved during the time of Communism. The people can actually understand what is written – unlike most religious locations throughout the world where emphasis is upon image due to the high level so of illiteracy.) 

The one on Mao’s right also carries an image which looks very much like the photo of him making the declaration of the People’s Republic in Tienanmen Square in October 1949. Unfortunately I’m not able to understand Chinese characters but would surmise that the text is that very declaration.

Declaration of the People's Republic of China 1949

Declaration of the People’s Republic of China 1949

On his left the image is of an older Mao, probably from the 1960s, so I would hazard a guess that the text is from one of the exhortations he made from the podium over the Gate of Heavenly Peace to the massed Red Guards in Tienanmen Square.

The area has changed over the years. I’ve seen photos where there were trees behind the statue. They might have been OK as bushes but started to become a bit much after a few years and they have been removed so the immediate area around the statue is now clean and clear. I’ve also read that there was a permanent ‘guard’ at the site but there was no evidence of that during the (regrettably short) time I was there. Also there was no music playing (as is often reported) so don’t know if this is the now permanent situation.

I made a number of mistakes and got to the village quite late in the afternoon and many of the places immediately next to the square were closed so I wasn’t able to get a feeling of how the area had been developed for the growing number of tourists that visit Nanjiecun. 

Getting there

It’s possible to stay in the Commune’s own hotel, which is located right next to the square. The problem is one of communication as the staff only speak Mandarin.

If a day trip is all that is looked for then getting to Linying railway station is the best bet and then walking a kilometre or so or getting a taxi to the village. There are also regular buses from Zhengzhou (the nearest big tourist destination) to Linying.

GPS:

33.80611111

113.95416667

DMS:

33º48’21.9”

113º57’15.2”