Two Roads Defeated in the Cultural Revolution Part 2: Lin Biao’s Road

Two Roads Defeated in the Cultural Revolution Part 2: Lin Biao’s Road

Part 1:

Part 3:

Prairie Fire
17 September 2008

It is popular, even among those sympathetic to the Chinese Revolution, to see the Cultural Revolution as only chaos, as destruction with no construction. These critics hold that this led to the demise of socialism in the People’s Republic. With no competing social reorganization to fill the void after the chaos of the early years, the door was left open to capitalism. Such a simplistic narrative is flawed. Instead, there were two identifiable leftist roads, two trends, during the Cultural Revolution that represented realistic, defined ways forward. The First Road was the road of the spontaneous mass movements whose power climaxed in 1967. The Second Road was the road of the leftwing PLA, Lin Biao’s road. This road climaxed from 1968 to 1971. Though in the early years of the Cultural Revolution, Lin Biao, as the spokesperson for the movement as a whole, echoed the First Road, later his group had their own particular vision. (1) The interests of both groups intersected and, often, these two trends shared similar ideals. Sometimes they were at odds. Both roads sought an extension and radicalization of the Cultural Revolution at key junctures. These trends sought to exert themselves where they could. The rise of capitalism was not a passive process. Rather, it was the active result of the political defeat of the early breakthroughs during the first half of the Cultural Revolution decade.

International Outlook: Global People’s War

The Second Road’s global strategic outlook and global class orientation is articulated in Lin Biao’s key 1965 article Long Live the Victory of People’s War! Lin Biao’s article extended the metaphor of the people’s war such that the main dynamic shaping the world is the global countryside pitted against the global city. Such is the principal contradiction. The Third World is pitted against the First World:

“Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called ‘the cities of the world’, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute ‘the rural areas of the world’. Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.” (2)

The implications of Lin Biao’s article for global class, though not completely articulated, were understood. Lin Biao’s view struck fear into the Amerikan imperialists of a Third World invasion. (3) (4) Lin Biao’s article was not the only one that hinted in this direction. Qi Benyu’s Patriotism or National Betrayal? comes close to explicitly writing off the West as whole in its condemnation of “Western civilization,” (5) “civilized Europeans,” (6) and embrace of Boxer slogans such as “kill the foreign devils.” (7) These outlooks have their precursor in Chen Boda’s systemization of Maoism as the revolutionary path for the colonial and semi-colonial worlds. (8) (9) Whereas, Lin Biao’s outlook tended to write-off the First World countries, Mao saw First Worlders, and the White “working class,” as allies. In fact, some Maoists in Shanghai saw the claim that Amerikan “workers” were no longer exploited as tantamount to capitulation. (9) Outside of China, the implications of Lin Biao’s line, in terms of First World “workers,” was understood. (10) In August, 1966, the Chinese media featured Black liberation fighter Robert F. Williams articulating a line that ran contrary to Mao, even as he praised Mao:

“The United States today is a fascist society more brutal than any the world has ever known. It has all but exterminated a whole people. It has robbed and raped an entire continent with impunity. It has divided the peoples of the world into national factions and set them against themselves and their brothers. With no more authority than the wave of its bloody imperialist hand it has abrogated the right of self-determination of small nations. It has appointed and crowned itself both king and armoured knight of the whole universe. It threatens the globe with annihilation. It is a super colonial power that is colonializing the colonials.

The world famed and brilliant philosopher, Lord Bertrand Russell has justifiably stated that racist America has exterminated more black people than Hitler exterminated Jews in Nazi Germany. Lord Russell and many other fair-minded humanists throughout the world have justifiably stated that the U.S. military aggression in Vietnam is executed in a more cruel and barbarous manner than even the horrible campaigns of aggression, genocide, and conquest carried out by Hitler’s fascist Germany.

Yet, there is a mighty tendency, promoted by the sinister American devil himself, to engender more sympathy and fraternalism for the so-called ‘good reasonable Americans’ than for the wretched victims of vicious and brutal U.S. imperialism. The U.S. constitutes one of the greatest fascist threats ever to cast its ugly shadow across the face of the earth. When the butchers of Nazi Germany were on the plunder, the world cry was ‘Crush Nazism!’ ‘Crush the Fascist Power Structure!’ ‘Crush Germany!’ Total war was unleashed without deference to any who may been considered ‘good Germans’ inside Nazi Germany. No sane person opposed to fascism pleaded for a soft policy toward Nazi Germany or pleaded for victims to wait for deliverance through the benevolence of ‘good German workers and liberals.’ Racist America didn’t give a damn about sparing the good Japanese people when they dropped their horrible and devastating atom bombs.” (11)

A year later, the Chinese media again featured Robert F. Williams paraphrasing Long Live the Victory of People’s War! In the paraphrase, Robert F. Williams refers to whole First World countries as exploiters. Since this speech was made within China, and published within China, it is likely that Robert F. Williams was expressing not only his own view, but also a non-official, minority line within the Chinese Communist Party. It is very likely that there were, at a minimum, different pulls within the Chinese Communist Party. And, some of those foreshadow Leading Light Communism. It would not be surprising if Robert F. Williams’ views on White Amerika expressed the losing side of a two-line struggle within the Chinese Communist Party:

“This is the era of Mao [Zedong], the era of world revolution, and the Afro-Americans’ struggle for liberation is a part of an invincible worldwide movement . . . . In keeping with the principles of people’s war, wherein the great masses of exploited peoples of the world represent the rural masses surrounding the cities (the exploiting industrial countries), the Afro-American revolutionaries represent a mighty urban underground within the city. Our people will further develop and master people’s warfare. Every battle will be a glorious monument to Chairman Mao’s August 8, 1963 statement and we shall become even more fierce in resisting the tyranny of racist U.S. imperialism.“ (11)

In August of 1967, Lin Biao’s work was raised against the revisionist Adverse Current, Zhou Enlai and Marshal Chen Yi in the Foreign Ministry, by the mass movements and the left Central Cultural Revolution Small Group (CCRSG). The Adverse Current made the claim that the mass movements of the First Road were hurting China’s ability to fight imperialism. They insisted the PLA must maintain order. (13) Qi Benyu, by making the connection that the new bourgeoisie were comprador, implied that the mass movements were not hurting the struggle against imperialism, but were part of that struggle. The First Road’s street movement, which he likened to the Boxers, was part of Lin Biao’s global people’s war. The First Road was advancing the principal contradiction against imperialism. (14) On August 7, Wang Li claimed that the Foreign Ministry of Zhou Enlai and Marshal Chen Yi had done nothing to put Lin Biao’s global people’s war line into practice. The media echoed the importance of the people’s war line. (15) (16) This led to the brief ascension of the red diplomat Yao Dengshan, who echoed Qi Benyu’s threats against Britain in Hong Kong from the Foreign Ministry. (17) (18) There was an intersection between the Lin Biao Road and the First Road in the struggles during the hot summer of 1967.

A part of Lin Biao’s view was that Western imperialism, led by the United States, and Soviet social-imperialism, worked jointly to oppress the Third World. Despite accusations after Lin Biao’s death, there is little evidence that he sought an alliance with the Soviets against the United States. Certainly Mao was closer to the United States than Lin Biao was to the Soviets. In fact, Lin Biao’s Long Live the Victory of People’s War! had been, in part, a polemic against such a position articulated by then Chief of Staff Lou Ruiqing in 1965. (19) Lin Biao’s outlook, since it seeks its principal allies among the forces of people’s wars, leaves little maneuvering room for traditional foreign policy. After all, these people’s war forces seek to overthrow the very states that traditional foreign policy aims to do business with. Intra-imperialist rivalry was not acute such that one imperialist bloc could be played off another. Rather Lin Biao’s view was to support the broad united front of national liberation and socialist forces against imperialism. Rather than playing the imperialists against each other, Lin Biao’s outlook sought to prioritize establishing a global ideological, but not organizational, independent, proletarian pole. As part of this, the work of Chinese missions abroad emphasized the dissemination of Maoism. And, ambassadors returned to China to participate in the Cultural Revolution. (20)

Lin Biao’s road elevated the significance of Maoism in the International Communist Movement. Following Chen Boda’s earlier elevation of Maoism as the path for the colonial and semi-colonial world, Lin Biao’s Second Road recognized that Mao had “creatively and comprehensively and has brought it [Marxism-Leninism] to a higher and completely new stage. Mao [Zedong]‘s Thought is Marxism-Leninism of the era in which imperialism is heading for total collapse and socialism is advancing to world-wide victory.” (21) The elevation of Maoism is militantly internationalist. This line was also associated with elevating people’s war generally. So much so, that whether one dared to wage people’s war was a mark of whether one was a true communist or revisionist. (22) (23) This was not the ordinary politics of shortsightedness and compromise. This was a farsighted strategy that departed from the politics of the ordinary in its efforts to remake the world. Recently, some revisionists have accused other revisionists as “Lin Biaoist” for their efforts to establish a Fourth International of Mao-influence parties. (24) (25) However, there is no evidence that Lin Biao’s road sought to establish a new Comintern to micro-manage a global people’s war. At one point, Indian Maoists influenced by Lin Biao sought to appoint Mao as the chairman of their party. The Chinese rejected this move; they rejected the patriarchal party model of the Soviet revisionists. (26) There is no evidence that Lin Biao sought to revive such a model, nonetheless, the First Road and Lin Biao’s Second Road were later criticized for self-glorification and Trotskyism by Zhou Enlai. (27) Echoing the post-Lin Biao consensus, Samir Amin recently called the Second Road’s global people’s war model as “too extreme to be useful.” (28) Contrary to this consensus, Leading Light Communism has revived the global people’s war model. Today, global people’s war is at the heart of the rebirth of the International Communist Movement. (29)

The changing winds could be seen at the Twelfth Plenum of the Eighth Congress in the fall of 1968. This meeting was to prepare for the Ninth Congress in April of 1969. At this meeting, both Lin Biao’s and Jiang Qing’s groups agreed that the main issue was the Adverse Current and the attempt to reverse the verdict on deposed cadres. The aim of both radical groups was to remove as many conservatives before the Ninth Congress.

“One after another, they denounced a number of veteran cadres. Kang Sheng condemned the Feburary Adverse Current as ‘an opposition to Chairman Mao, a negation of the Yanan rectification campaign, an an attempt to reverse the verdict on the Wang Ming line’. Jiang Qing declared that Chen Yi, Ye Jianying and Xu Xiangqian had created disturbances in the army. Yao Wenyuan expressed the view hat the Feburary Adverse Current demonstrated an effort to reverse the verdict on Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and Tao Zhu. Xie Fuzhi held that Chen Yun had opposed Mao, the Great Leap Forward and the General Line to build socialism. Huang Yongsheng declared that Zhu De was ‘an old right-wing opportunist’, that Nie Rongzhen had ‘always indulged in mountain-stronghold mentality, had set up an independent kingdom and spread the theory of multi nuclea’, and that Ye Jianying was the leader of the Feburary Adverse Current. Wu Faxian challenged Zhu De to tell him how he had opposed Chairman Mao at Jinggangshan in the late 1920s.. Before speaking to the Plenum on 20 October, Lin Biao asked Mao’s instructions as to the content of his speech in which he proposed to focus on the Adverse Current. Mao agreed to this, but told Lin Biao not to mention any names, since Mao’s policy towards senior cadres was ‘criticism and protection’ (yi pi er bao). Senior cadres, Mao said, should be elected to the 9th Congress, ‘but they should not wag their tails.’” (30)

It was at Mao’s behest that Marshal Chen Yi, specifically, attended the Ninth Congress. At the Ninth Congress in April of 1969, when Marshal Chen Yi asked,”How can I be at the Congress? I am supposed to be a ‘rightist.’,” Mao replied, “Well, then, represent the right.” (31) In Lin Biao’s view, the Adverse Current was “the most serious anti-Party event after the 11th Plenum of the CC” and represented “a rehearsal of capitalist restoration.” Lin Biao would later be proved correct on this point. Mao, however, stated in 1968 that the danger of the Adverse Current should not be overrated. He, then, significantly, referred to the Adverse Current as “comrades” who should participate in the Ninth Congress. Thus Mao stopped the joint efforts of the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing groups in 1968. (32) Lin Biao followers, including Air Force commander Wu Faxian, continued their attack on the Adverse Current and Marshal Chen Yi at the Ninth Congress, where Mao and Zhou Enlai had protected them (33), as they had protected them from the First Road in 1967. Of the First Road Mao said, “Chen Yi made fewer mistakes in forty years than his critics have in forty days.” (34)

The overturning of Lin Biao’s foreign policy line and what would become the foreign policy line of Ninth Congress began even before the Ninth Congress of April of 1969. The former line opposed both the United States and the Soviets. The emerging policy began to lean more positively toward the West. The policy change began, possibly, as early as 1968. According to Evner Hoxha, as early as October of 1968, the Chinese Foreign Ministry were seeking an alliance with the United States under Zhou Enlai’s direction, “For the Chinese comrades, therefore, anyone who appears to be against the Soviets, even temporarily is regarded as an ally, regardless of who he may be.” Evner Hoxha stated that Chinese overtures to revisionists in Romania and Yugoslavia in 1970 were based on this new policy. (35) On July 22, 1972, Evner Hoxha was correct in his speculation that the death of Lin Biao was connected to China’s new relationship with the West. (36)

In February, 1969, Mao secretly set in motion overturning aspects of Lin Biao’s line later preserved and adopted by the Ninth Congress. Four Marshals involved in the Adverse Current, Chen Yi, Ye Jiangying, Xu Xiangqian and Nie Rongzhen were sent down to factories as part of “struggle-criticism and transformation,” the last stage of the Cultural Revolution. During this period Mao and Zhou Enlai had them secretly working on a new direction in international affairs. At one point, the objection was made that the Ninth Congress Report had already defined the international situation. However, Mao and Zhou Enlai made it clear that they wanted a departure from the Ninth Congress. From June 7 to October 20, twenty secret meetings were held. The marshals of the Adverse Current came to the view that the Soviet Union posed the greatest threat to China. Marshal Ye Jianying said China should draw a lesson from the history of the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu and Wu, in which the strategy of Zhuge Liang, prime minister of the Kingdom of Shu, was to unite with Sun Quan of the Kingdom of Wu in the east to resist Cao Cao of the Wei Kingdom in the north. Marshal Chen Yi pointed out that Stalin’s non-aggression pact with Hitler could be a reference. Marshal Chen Yi put forward his idea for a breakthrough with the United States as the report was finalized:

“I have been thinking about a breakthrough in Sino-US relations for a long time. The Warsaw talks had been going on for more than ten years and nothing came out of them. No breakthrough can be expected from them even if they are resumed… Out of strategic considerations, Nixon is eager to win over China. We should make use of contradictions between the United States and the Soviet Union proceeding from strategic interests. It is also necessary to achieve a breakthrough in Sino-US relations.” (37)

This vindicates criticisms against Marshal Chen Yi through 1967 and 1968 that he always sought reconciliation with the United States. (38) Later, in July of 1970 when Marshal Chen Yi was recuperating from illness, he was excited to learn that Henry Kissinger was to visit China in secret. (39) As early as December 1970, the change in Chinese foreign policy was publicly hinted at with Mao’s invitation to Richard Nixon to visit China in an interview with Edgar Snow. (40) After Lin Biao’s fall, in February of 1972, Nixon visited China.

Mao’s alliance with the Adverse Current, once identified as the Liu-Deng headquarters in the Foreign Ministry, was not simply a move to counter Lin Biao’s growing power. It was an ideological alliance. Lin Biao’s fall made this shift to the new global outlook easier. By December of 1970, the change in policy between China and the United States was clear. At this time, Lin Biao ran interference by objecting to a conference to discuss the matter of Nixon’s visit. Lin Biao stated, “imperialism will never lay down the butcher’s knife.” Lin Biao’s differing view can be discerned at a rally celebrating the 21st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Lin Biao stated, the same month as Kissinger’s second visit in October, 1970:

“A new upsurge in the struggle against U.S. imperialism is emerging in the world. As Chairman Mao pointed out in his solemn statement of May 20 this year, ‘The danger of a new world war still exists, and the people of all countries must get prepared. But revolution is the main trend in the world today.’ Throughout the world, the people’s revolutionary struggles are developing vigorously, and the united front against U.S. imperialism is constantly expanding and growing in strength. U.S. imperialism and social-imperialism are most isolated and are having a very tough time.”

Lin Biao goes on to provide a long list of those nations waging people’s wars against United States imperialism. In this speech, social-imperialism is only mentioned once. This is at a time when Mao, Zhou Enlai and the Adverse Current are re-working China’s foreign policy behind the scenes. Kissinger had visited only a few months earlier in July. (41) A year later, Haung Yongsheng, one of Lin Biao’s generals, made a militant attack on United States imperialism on Army Day, August 1, 1971. He stated that United States imperialism must get out of “all of Asia.” He also failed to mention Soviet social-imperialism. (42) (43) In 1970 and 1971, Mao reorganized the Beijing military region importing troops from Nanjing and Fujian. (44) The military leadership in Nanjing and Fujian were hostile to Lin Biao’s policies at that point. (45) (46) This weakened Lin Biao at the center as Mao moved against his “closest comrade-in-arms and successor.” The ball was set in motion. Alexander Haig, Deputy Assistant, National Security Affairs stated that there was a disconnect between the rhetoric meant for public consumption and the actual relationship between China and the United States. “We expected and frequently received diatribes for public consumption in the press and in the diplomacy itself. The real, the careful issue was not to be carried away by this, to not get overly offended as we attempted to achieve a greater outcome.” (47) This new emphasis is reflected in the greater number of anti-Soviet articles to anti-United States articles in Beijing Review through the 1970s. (48) Eventually, even this public rhetoric would be abandoned under Deng Xiaoping. The fall of the Second Road meant a rejection of the global people’s war strategy; it eventually meant a de facto Sino-United States alliance.

Domestic Outlook: Flying Leap

Domestically, Lin Biao’s road was the extension to society as a whole the policies that Lin Biao implemented in the PLA in order to solve the problems that had been associated with the Maoist developmental model during the Great Leap Forward. (49) Lin Biao favored a vigorous return to the Maoist developmental model, a new Flying Leap, combined with the militarization of society. It was when the Cultural Revolution was winding down in the urban areas that the Second Road was extending it to the countryside. (50) The term “Flying Leap” originally derived from provincial reports, not a general directive on economic policy. Like the beginnings of the Great Leap Forward, this was probably to see what course local activism would take before backing it from the center. (51) Whereas, the First Road was mostly an urban movement, at the center of Lin Biao’s road was agricultural reform. Mao was hoping to end the Cultural Revolution around the Ninth Congress in 1969. (52) The Second Road sought to transform and spread the Cultural Revolution to the vast majority in the rural areas of China. This vision incorporated many of the ideals of the First Road, but was a more orderly and disciplined approach to continuing the revolution. This vision can be seen in propaganda books like The Red Sun Lights the Road Forward at Dazhai, released as part of the Learn from Dazhai campaign around 1969 and associated with Lin Biao’s push for radicalization of agriculture. (53) This road was most vigorously embarked on from 1968 to 1971 in those places where Lin Biao or other leftists held sway. After the Ninth Congress in 1969, Chen Boda, who had been an important pro-Mao radical during the Great Leap Forward, had joined Lin Biao’s trend. Even though Chen Boda has been part of the First Road to an extent, as his independent base in the mass movements was eroded, he joined Lin Biao’s group. Chen Boda was one of the intellectuals behind the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. He helped popularize and theorize the People’s Commune Movement. Lin Biao’s own career was also tied to the Great Leap Forward:

“Lin Biao was one of the few supporters Mao had left. Lin’s speech followed directly after Mao’s. ‘The thoughts of the Chairman are always correct,” he said. ‘If we encounter any problem, any difficulty, it is because we have not followed the instructions of the Chairman closely enough, because we ignored or circumscribed the Chairman’s advice.’ Mao said, ‘What a good speech vice-chairman Lin has made. Lin Biao’s words are always so clear and distinct.” (54)

Lin Biao was one of the few people who remained loyal to Mao after Mao came under criticism in connection with the Great Leap Forward. He replaced Defense Minister Peng Dehui, a vocal critic of the Great Leap Forward whose outlook was closer to that of Khrushchev, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. After the spontaneous mass movements of the First Road winded down in 1968, Chen Boda hitched his future to Lin Biao’s, believing that Lin Biao’s Road had become the best way forward. Both were advocates of the Maoist version of the Great Leap Forward. If the Cultural Revolution was to go forward, it would have to touch the lives of China’s vast majority in the countryside.

In 1958, during the Great Leap Forward, the utopian sentiment to actually reach communism was expressed, “[the People’s Communes] are the best basic form of organization in China’s socialist society, and will be the best for the attainment of socialism and the transition to communism.” (55) (56) (57) (58) This utopian impulse was shared by the First and Second Roads during the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution itself was seen as a bridge to a higher level of socialism and, ultimately, to communism. As expressed by a unit in the Air Force, a stronghold of Lin Biao, “The great proletarian cultural revolution, launched and led by our great leader Chairman Mao himself, has ushered in a new era in the international communist movement and blazed a brilliant trail for the transition from socialism to communism. This is the most important sign that Marxism-Leninism has developed to the stage of Mao Zedong Thought.” (59)

In 1969 and throughout the Flying Leap period, articles began appearing that focused on the Great Leap Forward, the struggle between two lines in the countryside, and new economic successes. (60) According to Jurgan Domes, “Mao’s deputy and appointed successor made it clear that he seriously wanted to reverse the revisionist interpretation of Mao’s concept of development.” (61) Jurgan Domes characterizes the Maoist model of development that Lin Biao advanced:

“(1) an emphasis on the simultaneous and equal development of industry and agriculture;
(2) an emphasis on simultaneous promotion of modern and traditional methods of industry and agriculture;
(3) the decentralization of planning and administration in agriculture and local industry to the level of People’s Communes, with, at the same time, the centralization of the ‘modern sectors’ of industry;
(4) the strengthening of the position of the People’s Communes with respect to their subordinate smaller agricultural production units;
(5) the replacement of shortage in investment capital by the mass mobilization of the work force –i.e. renewed transition to labor intensive instead of capital intensive methods of development;
(6) the rejection of attempts to elicit positive mass response toward the leadership through material incentives. Instead this was to be achieved through a change of consciousness during mass campaigns;
(7) a contempt for profit as a standard of industrial development;
(8) a demand for intellectuals to arrive at a uniform style of ‘revolutionary romanticism’ in literature and the arts;
(9) an emphasis on personal initiative of the Party Leader as opposed to that of ‘collective leadership’ — i.e. an emphasis on individual charisma as opposed to rule by organization.” (62)

Part of this return was the Learn from Dazhai campaign that began around 1969. This was a restart and transformation of an earlier campaign that had been interrupted by the Cultural Revolution in 1966. General Long Shujin, commander of the Xinjiang Military Region, spoke of this new campaign. In February, in a speech to activists, he advised to learn from the “Dazhai system,” a system where politics was to be in command. Wages and bonuses would be distributed firstly according to politics. Ideology and politics were to take center stage. The independence of the production unit from state investment and reliance on its own resources were emphasized. Sacrifice for the greater community and future generations was another theme. (63) Key to this concept of development was mass mobilization of the population. Between 1966 and 1968, peasants had marched into urban areas for conservative and economist ends. They protested for an extension of private family plots and free markets. (64) The Flying Leap sought to counter this trend. Efforts were made to obstruct private ownership of land. Private plots, once 15 percent, were now limited to 5 percent. Free markets were restricted. And peasants were ideologically pressured to sell surpluses to the state. (65) “Equal distribution first, exchange second” governed some areas. First land would be distributed equally according to size and quality. Then, the plots would be changed around between households annually, regardless of the output of the land in question. This aimed at undermining feelings of private ownership of land among the peasantry. (66) During the Great Leap Forward, Chen Boda, at one point, advocated that everything should be free and money should be abolished. (67) In the Flying Leap too there were attempts at implementing a free supply system. (68) There was also an effort to move back toward the People’s Communes of 1958. (69) Some of the old errors of the Great Leap Forward were said to have returned. Projections predicted optimistic increases in industrial and agricultural production. Guangdong, under Lin Biao’s influence (70), reported all time record harvests. (71) Lin Biao spoke of “fulfilling or overfufilling” the current Five-Year plan in a significant speech in October of 1970, thereby laying the basis for a new plan. (72) Like the Great Leap Forward, there were reports that problems arose when commandist methods were used to fulfill inflated targets. According to critics, the unit of account was prematurely raised. One source writes, “Though laudable as a radical ideal, many people felt that to implement the [Dazhai] model over much of China too precipitately might result in ‘commandist’ deviations. Commandism in the rural sector was, in large part, a consequence of the belated extension of the Cultural Revolution into the rural sector.” (73)

Great Leap Forward-type programs returned in the areas of education and urban services. Integrating the education system was stressed. Factories were combined with schools and vice versa. According to one source, during the Great Leap Forward, there was an over-concentration on educational output rather than quality of inputs. The slogan of the Flying Leap was “Little but well.” Similar to 1958, “red and expert” universities and technical middle schools were established. Local initiative was fostered. Theoretical education was combined with a practical orientation in the spirit of the Resist Japan University of 1942-1943. The ideal of Yanan informed these efforts. (74) These practices existed throughout the Cultural Revolution decade resulting in primary and secondary enrollments in the countryside dramatically increasing from 116,000,000 to 150,000,000 over the decade for primary enrollments. Secondary enrollments increased from 15,000,000 to 58,000,000. (75) There was a revival of Great Leap Forward programs in urban services. There was an emphasis on local control and decentralization. Along the lines of the Great Leap Forward, there was a stress on producing more medical personnel rather than specialization. Medicine was democratized, made to serve the people. (76) This was true of education generally. For example, in 1968, one article praises a new type of military school where “class struggle is the main subject” and “Vice Chairman Lin Biao’s policy of teaching fewer courses but concentrating on what is most essential.” (77) The Two Roads aspired to make governance in all areas more participatory, simple and streamlined. (78) “A major task of the newly rehabilitated cadres and propaganda teams was to rebuild neighborhood committees (street committees and residents’ groups) according to the triple combination and the old Yanan slogan of ‘simple administration.’ Security and policing functions were transfered to local teams and worker groups. “[T]he model Daqing oilfield had been set up according to the urban commune idea of fusing together units of industrial and agricultural production, education and administration.” With the merging of the neighborhood co-operatives with street administration, the stage was set for the revival of the old urban communes. Yet the urban commune from the Great Leap Forward was not revived as such. (79)

Aims were to diminish the three great differences: between workers and peasants, town and country, and intellectual and manual labor. This was to be accomplished by a push in rural industrialization. Rural industries were locally financed and controlled, but used technology from the cities. At the end of the Maoist era, 20,000,000 peasants were transformed into full-time or part-time industrial workers in the countryside. (80)

All of these reconfigurations of society were attributed to the power of the masses led by “Mao Zedong Thought.” A commentary as late as July of 1971 praised Lin Biao’s special role: “Energetically learning from the People’s Liberation Army, they regard instructions by Chairman Mao, Vice-Chariman Lin and the Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Party on the army’s ideological and political work as those given to themselves, put proletarian politics in the fore, and build the [Daqing] oil field politically.” (81)

The Second Road combined leftist economics with the extension to society as a whole programs that had been implemented in the PLA. This entailed a leading role to the leftist PLA and a militarization of society. This militarization was reflected in the language of the time. The metaphor of people’s war was applied to all spheres of life. Peasants were “armed” with Maoism to “defeat” reactionary lines, to “battle” nature. Art and literature were “weapons.” Reactionary art and literature were “sugar-coated bullets.” “Fields are turned into battle fields” (82) The mass movements and mobilizations often took on military designations: “regiment,” “brigade,” “guard,” etc. This militarization of language and life was connected to a heroic self-image in carrying forward the Cultural Revolution. For those who had not fought in the military to liberate China, the Cultural Revolution was their war, their heroic time. According to one outsider looking in, “there was a tendency for the country to be turned into something like an army camp.” (83) An author and one time sent-down youth (zhiqing) recalls the spirit of the times captured in a conversation, presumably, around 1970 or 1971:

“Actually, she talked modestly, and on one topic: the significance of the Cultural Revolution. She enlightened me within only a couple months. Her description of the goal of sent-down youth (zhiqing) fit well with my childhood utopian dream, that Communism aims to make the whole world a beautiful garden where everyone lives happily without exploitation and oppression: ‘From each according to one’s ability and to each according to one’s needs.’ Now we revolutionary youth were in the position to make our country a beautiful garden. It cannot be more difficult than the Long March… I enthusiastically began to work toward this glorious dream, imagining myself among the ranks of revolutionaries who heroically endured hardship and pain for the sake of all people’s everlasting happiness. I wrote a letter to the brigade leader sincerely asking for the lowest salary. I reasoned, ‘When the Red Army soldiers were on the Long March, each had only five cents a day for food. I have no reason to ask for more than what I need to feed myself since our country is still poor.’ I was soon identified by the party leaders as a promising ‘revolutionary seedling.’” (84)

Similar self-conceptions can be found among those in the Stalin-era who struggled to industrialize the Soviet Union. In this barracks egalitarianism, Lin Biao eliminated outward signs of rank in the PLA.

As early as 1959, Lin Biao placed an emphasis on the role of the super-structure, culture, ideology, in the process of capitalist restoration:

“The force of habit of the bourgeoisie and small producers is a kind of social basis for bourgeois ideology which still finds a place among a section of the people and would become active and cause trouble when the opportunity arises. Either socialist or capitalist ideology must dominate the minds of the people. Therefore, in the transition period, the struggle to enhance proletarian ideology and liquidate bourgeois ideology remains vital at all times in building up the army. None of the work of our army, including its modernization, can be divorced from this ideological struggle. The political and ideological struggle between working class and the bourgeoisie rises and ebbs, rises again and ebbs again, like the tides; it is far from over to this day and will not end until classes are finally and completely liquidated… Every revolutionary must go through uninterrupted revolution ideologically.” (85)

Extended to all of society during the Cultural Revolution were Lin Biao’s the Three Eight work style and Four Firsts PLA policy of 1959: “1) As between man and weapons give first place to man; 2) as between political and other work giving first place to political work; 3) as between ideological and routine tasks in political work, giving first place to ideological work; and 4) in ideological work as between ideas in books and living ideas currently in people’s minds, giving first place to living ideas currently in people’s minds.” (86) Later, the slogans of Lin Biao’s PLA would become the main slogans of the Cultural Revolution. “Put politics in command!,” and, later, “Mao Zedong Thought in command!” originated in the PLA of the early Lin Biao years, the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Under Lin Biao, the PLA was seen as a “giant school of Mao Zedong Thought.” Hence, society too was to become a giant school of Maoism. When the Hubei Revolutionary Committee was established under the influence of Lin Biao’s followers (87), one leader said, “we should… turn the whole Hubei Province into a big red school of Mao Zedong Thought.” (88) PLA Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Teams ideologically “armed” the countryside by spreading Maoism. (89) Maoism was to be in command of everything in this new social order. (90) Lin Biao writes, “People’s revolution under Mao Zedong’s Thought is the locomotive for the advance of history.” (91) Also, “China is a great socialist state of the dictatorship of the proletariat and has a population of 700 million. It needs unified thinking, revolutionary thinking, correct thinking. That is Mao Zedong Thought. Only with this thought can we maintain vigorous revolutionary enthusiasm and a firm and correct political orientation.” (92) The Maoism that was to guide this new order was practical, moralistic, abbreviated, ritualistic and cultish. It was a Maoism that was to be accessible to the vast majority of the population in the countryside who were often barely literate. Lin Biao pushed a socialist moralism embodied in the “three constantly read articles”: Serve The People, In Memory of Norman Bethune, and The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains. Quotations from Chairman Mao, originally prepared for the PLA by Lin Biao, was produced for the general public. General Xiao Hua, known for creating a Lin Biao personality cult, who fell as part of the purge of the “May 16th Corps,” wrote:

“Comrade Lin [Biao] has instructed us that the army must implement the thought of Mao [Zedong] in order to resist revisionist ideology and all sorts of exploiting class ideology, to strengthen revolutionization, to elevate our class consciousness, to raise our understanding of policy and improve our way of thinking. Comrade Lin [Biao] has stressed that not only the fighters but also the cadres must study the ‘three constantly read articles’. It is very easy to read the ‘three constantly read articles.’ But to apply them truly is not so easy. We must study these three articles as maxims. These must be studied at all levels. We must apply what we study so as to revolutionize our thinking. These instructions of Comrade Lin [Biao] must be implemented with great earnestness.” (93)

Lin Biao’s Cultural Revolution was a movement to touch people’s “very souls.” It was a movement to revolutionize the mind. The altruistic spirit was captured in the slogan “fight self, repudiate revisionism.” The media extolled the virtues of socialist heroes in order to build a new communist humanity:

“The existence and influence of the ideology of the exploiting classes will in the end inevitably restore the old political power protecting the system of private ownership. Those who are opposed to the destruction of old culture and old ideology are bound to suppress the revolution and the masses. If we want to consolidate the socialist system –its economic system and its political system–we must advocate a concept of public-mindedness, i.e. we must create a new man to construct a new society, a man with a communist spirit. What is a man with a communist spirit? He is Zhang Side, Norman Bethune, Liu Hulan, and Lei Feng, who have all been praised by our Chairman Mao. Other such men are Ouyang Hai, Jiao Yulu, Wang Jie, and Liu Yinhjun, all of whom are men of communism and men of a new kind. We need new men like these to build our new society, and we must gradually transform the people in our society into men of this kind… These are the people of communism. Their opposites are people centered on ‘self,’ who are only interested in their own gain, fame, power, status, and with being in the limelight… To care only about oneself is a purely bourgeois world view… What we need is to foster people dedicated to the ‘public.’” (94)

Ideological remolding for socialist ends was carried out on a massive scale. On August 20, 1966, it was Lin Biao who announced the campaign against the Four Olds: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. The PLA was where Jiang Qing first found support for her artistic innovations that were later extended to all of society. (95) There is a logic to this focus on culture. After all, it is the cultural programming of social motion that makes possible the elimination of bureaucratic control, setting the basis for the elimination of the state and reaching communism.

Lin Biao’s programs had a big effect on authority in society. Spreading Maoism throughout society in an easy to access form spread the linguistic tools to overthrow authority. The ability to rebel became widely available as Maoism became the language of the ordinary and everyday. Speech acts to overthrow authority became ready-to-hand such that even the young and uneducated were able to wield them against authority. This made the legitimation narrative of society available to the broad masses of Chinese society to be used, especially, against local and bureaucratic authority. Almost anyone could find the right Mao quote to wield against a local boss, or even a parent. (96) The linguistic habits of the early Cultural Revolution challenged authority in general even if those habits re-inscribed Mao’s own as absolute. However, at the same time, cultish ritualism was used to shut down spontaneity. Overall, authority was transfered away from the middle layers of the Party and state, upwards and downwards. Authority was spread democratically across the bottom, but also concentrated at the very top, in the leaders of society, especially in Mao. Later, this situation changed as Mao pulled back from the more radical aspects of the Cultural Revolution. As the bureaucracy reconstituted itself, authority shifted back to the middle. Lin Biao’s approach would be denounced as “a priori-istic” and Confucian. In the “criticize Lin, criticize Confucius” campaign from 1973 to 1974, various post-Lin Biao factions would often attack an allegorical Lin Biao in these terms in order to attack each other. A concentration of authority that is both democratic, spread horizontally, and authoritarian is, so far, the best configuration of authority that socialism has yet produced. This, so far, has been the historical alternative to the bureaucratic configuration that actually restored capitalism in the Soviet Union of the 1950s and China of the 1970s.* Whether there is a realistic configuration for authority that avoids entrenching the bureaucracy yet does not have the drawbacks of the cult is a question that will face future revolutions. How is the science of Marxism brought to the vast majority of world’s population, often barely literate, without dilution? If we are stuck with non-science as a component of revolution, then it is idealist to reject it across the board. The question becomes one of how to mitigate the negative effects of certain non-scientific tropes. What version of Plato’s noble lie has the least blowback?

The anti-Lin Biao coalition, the end of the Second Road

Although initially successful, the radicalization of the Second Road met with resistance in the provinces. Hainan Island radio broadcasted, “We must vigorously confront the right-wing mentality of people who say: we are poor. It will take time to learn from [Dazhai]. One just cannot expect people to leap straight into the sky.” This conflict was reported from Canton, Shaanxi, Hubei, Guangxi, Anhui, Yunnan and Zhejiang. By the summer of 1971, the media reported open resistance in Hunan and Fujian. (97) Opposition to Lin Biao centered around those provincial commanders who did not want a return to Maoist social experiments in the countryside. Through 1971, provincial critics received support from the center. By the fall of 1971, criticism of Lin Biao’s programs were pervasive. The Cultural Revolution had come full circle. The origins of the Cultural Revolution can be traced to the differing lines that emerged during the Great Leap Forward. On the Maoist side, there was mass mobilization and social experimentation. On the Liu-Dengist side, there was bureaucratic management and the return to capitalist measures. The Second Road sought a return to that moment where Mao first lost out to Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, to set things on the correct, socialist path.

On February 27, general Xu Shiyuin from Nanjing, a harsh critic of Lin Biao said:

“It is not necessary to make the rich and the poor equal in order to make a revolution… There are people who condemn private holdings and part-time earnings [of individual peasants] as hangovers from capitalism, although such practices are expressly accepted by Party policy. This type of thinking may be Leftist in appearance, but its content is Right-wing. Such people are of the opinion that the more Leftist they are, the better. They are not aware of the fact that they are becoming detached from reality.” (98)

Throughout 1971, the Flying Leap policies were re-adjusted. By July 1971, critics went beyond attacking Lin Biao’s Flying Leap. They extended their criticism to the whole Maoist developmental model. This came as an attack on Mao by way of an attack on Chen Boda, who had played a key role in the Great Leap Forward in 1958:

“In the summer of 1958 the Pseudo-Marxist political swindler like Liu Shaoqi deceived the Chairman and madly excited the villages in a Pseudo-Marxist boom… As a result, a tyranny developed which brought much suffering to the masses.” (99)

Even though the attack, in the twisted manner of polemics of the time, falsely likens Lin Biao and Chen Boda to Liu Shaoqi, the content of the criticisms is the same of Peng Duhuai’s criticisms of Mao at Lushan in July and August of 1959. Out of these Great Leap Forward confrontations Peng Duhuai would fall, replaced by Lin Biao who defended Mao. However, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping would be elevated and Mao would be reduced in power. Peng Duhuai criticized “left mistakes” as “wanting to enter into communism at one step,” the Great Leap Forward was “hasty” and “excessive.” He criticized “a period of confusion regarding the question of the system of ownership,” and “free supply of food.” These errors, he claimed, were a result of “petty bourgeois fanaticism.” Also, “Putting politics in command is no substitute for economic principles, still less for concrete measures in economic work. Equal importance must be attached to putting politics in command and to effective measures in economic work; neither can be overestimated or neglected.” (100) Following Lin Biao’s fall, Mao echoed the line of the Adverse Current on the Second Road:

“In our country there are people who curse us, saying we are completely leftist. Which people are our ‘leftist faction’? They are those who wanted to knock down the Premeir today, Chen Yi tomorrow, Ye Jianying the next day. This so-called ‘left’ faction is now in jail. For several years there was chaos under heaven, fighting in various places throughout the nation, widespread civil war. The two sides fired guns, all together one million guns. This army faction supported this faction, that army faction supported that faction, [all] fighting. Power was seized by that ‘left’ faction… The chief backstage backer [of the ‘left’ faction] is now no longer with us, [he is] Lin Biao.” (101)

This verdict was again implied at Marshal Chen Yi’s funeral. On January 10, 1972, at Marshal Chen Yi’s funeral, Mao referred to Marshal Chen Yi as a “comrade,” and said that the problem of Deng Xaioping, currently exiled in Jiangxi, was a “contradiction among the people.” Mao instructed these verdicts to be spread around. This is not surprising since it was Mao who protected Deng Xiaoping by separating his case from Liu Shaoqi’s in 1967. In a People’s Daily editorial, Mao was again quoted, “We should remain convinced that more than 95 percent of our cadres are good and fairly good, and that a majority of those who have committed errors are able to change.” (102)

Lin Biao and Chen Boda would be cast initially as ultra-left after their fall (103), they would be pegged as anarchists and radicals. In October of 1972, People’s Daily had an entire three page article devoted to the repudiation of anarchy. (104) Later, during the campaign to criticize Lin Biao and Confucius, they were deemed ultra-right. (105) Once again, in 1976, the original verdict was maintained as ultra-left. However, criticism of Lin Biao was, almost always, in essence, criticism of the left. The immediate reasons for their fall was officially tied to an obscure argument over genius. Hardly an issue to risk the future of socialism over. Another immediate issue was that of whether the State Presidency vacated by Liu Shaoqi would be re-established and given to Lin Biao. Chen Boda sought to have it reestablished in 1970. Mao objected. It was claimed that this was part of a conspiracy against Mao. Since Lin Biao was already designated as Mao’s successor, it isn’t clear why his occupying the State Presidency should be looked upon as a power play to remove Mao. It makes more sense as an attack on Zhou Enlai and the Adverse Current. The Second Road was accused of numerous other “errors” and “crimes.” Lin Biao was accused of having overemphasized the spontaneity of the masses, over emphasized the human and spiritual factors in production, and having undermined rural stability by attempting to hastily universalize the Dazhai model and by advocating the immediate transition to communism. These latter reasons played a larger role in Lin Biao’s fall than the former ones. By 1972, he was even being unmasked as the unlikely backstage boss of the May 16th Corps of the First Road. (106) Attempts to redirect the criticism of Lin Biao as a criticism of the right were never very successful. Lin Biao had been, up until his fall, portrayed as a revolutionary saint. He was Mao’s “closest comrade and arms,” “best student” and “successor.” The PLA General Staff, at its Fourth Congress of Activists in the Creative Study and Application of Mao Zedong’s Thought stated, “We must take Vice-Chairman Lin Biao as our brilliant model in having infinite love for, confidence in, esteem for and loyalty to the great leader Chairman Mao.” (107) Lin Biao was a symbol of the early Cultural Revolution, Mao’s instructions were often being delivered through Lin Biao. With the exception of Mao himself, Lin Biao delivered the most important speeches of the Cultural Revolution. (108) The fall of Lin Biao burst the bubble of the Cultural Revolution, “After Lin Biao died, we stopped the daily rituals praising Mao and Lin. The fanaticism faded. It was as if we were all in a dream.” (109) (110)

The anti-Lin Biao coalition had solidified as a result of the struggle over foreign and rural policy. (111) (112) Agricultural policy has been at the heart of conflict within socialist (and revisionist) regimes: the Stalinist purges were often connected with agricultural policy, the fall of Imre Nagy in Hungary in 1955, and the fall of Edward Ochabs and rise of Wladyslaw Gomulka in Poland. (113) The core of the anti-Lin Biao coalition were the provincial right-wing PLA and the civilian administration. The vanguard of this anti-Lin Biao coalition was the Adverse Current and Zhou Enlai. In 1979, the revisionists led by Deng Xiaoping and the old Adverse Current who lumped the Fist Road, Second Road, and post-Lin Biao, remaining “Gang of Four” left together, accused the Lin Biao group of planning an ultra-left disruption of the economy in 1970. (114) (115) The trial of the “Lin Biao and Gang of Four counter-revolutionary cliques,” like its name suggests, did not draw sharp distinctions between the accused “ultra-left.” Like Mao, Lin Biao sought a more orderly consolidation phase. Unlike Mao, Lin Biao sought to embark on a further radical reorganization of society, a new push in the countryside. This would widen the Cultural Revolution considerably. Like the First Road, the Second Road saw the Cultural Revolution as a transition to a higher stage of socialism or communism. (116) Since 1968, Mao wanted to bring back the cadres, Lin Biao sought to rely on those sections of the PLA that were loyal to himself. The bureaucracy was rebuilt, the revolutionary mass movements, revolutionary committees, and revolutionary army declined. (117) This led to the second and most damaging major purge of Maoists during the Cultural Revolution. The end result of this purge was the return of Deng Xiaoping and the Adverse Current of 1967, the right wing, takes over the PLA, “the pillar of the Dictatorship,” at the center. Marshal Ye Jiangying of the Adverse Current took over responsibility for the Military Commission from Lin Biao’s faction. (118) The revolutionary outlook of Long Live the Victory of People’s War! is replaced over time by an outlook that eventually capitulates to the West. Zhou Enlai ascends as normalcy, stability, and economic growth win out over social experimentation, reorganization and class struggle. (119) By 1973, there is a glaring incongruity between the rhetoric of the early Cultural Revolution decade with its emphasis on class struggle and “continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat” and the post-Lin Biao emphasis on political unity, centralization, and consolidation. (120) The defeat of the Second Road is the endgame of the Cultural Revolution. One observer dubbed the post-Lin Biao situation as “Liu Shaoqi-ism without Liu Shaoqi.” (121)

The radical vision of the early Cultural Revolution trends energized the masses. The coordinates of what people conceived as possible were reset by the Two Roads. Whatever the flaws of the early Cultural Revolution decade, the utopian impulse of those years kept the Cultural Revolution moving forward toward communism. Like the First Road before and the Gang of Four after, the Second Road would be accused of plotting to usurp power and restore capitalism. After the defeat of the Second Road, what remained of the left was a mostly symbolic opposition totally dependent on Mao. And, in 1976, the Gang of Four, who had joined the anti-Lin Biao bloc, would be dispensed with by those at the heart of the anti-Lin Biao bloc. Marshal Ye Jiangying of the Adverse Current would preside over their arrest, the final purge of the Cultural Revolution left. Far from a passive process, the restoration of capitalism and capitulation to the West was an extremely active and violent process.

* The LLCO has updated its stance on Soviet revisionism. Although the revisionist Soviet Union was a right-opportunist deviation from dynamic socialism, it was socialism nonetheless. The institutions of capitalism had not been restored until at least Gorbachev’s reforms. Read the full article here:


  1. Two Roads Defeated in the Cultural Revolution Part 1: Young Generals and Mass Movements. LLCO. August 18, 2008. Retrieved from:
  2. Lin, Piao. Long Live the Victory of People’s War. Foreign Language Press. Peking, China: 1965. Retrieved from:
  3. U.S. Navy. Red Chinese Battle Plan. Retrieved from:
    Sometimes the enemy can get something more correct than so-called friends. The movie gets the global people’s war aspect of Leading Light Communism, more or less, correct. The movie was probably made in 1967 (because of the footage of the Chinese embassy in Indonesia), the height of the GPCR — Yao, the Chinese diplomat in Indonesia is the one accused of trying to become the Foreign Minister in league with the “ultra-left” CCRSG. The film mentions Lin Biao’s LLVPW which was written in 1965. So, the film is not from 1964 as the title says. It is unlikely it was made after 1972, obviously, because of the Lin Biao references.
  4. Avakian, Bob. For a Harvest of Dragons. RCP Publications. USA: 1983, p. 150-151.
    “ …to cling to at least aspects of Lin Biao-ism. Lin Biao was a top leader of the communist Party of China in the 1960s and he is associated with the line of singling out U.S. imperialism for a common onslaught from the “third world,” with simultaneous national liberation wars defeating U.S. imperialism throughout the “third world,” and even possibly destroying it altogether. His line (as expressed in a 1965 pamphlet [written by Lin Biao], Long Live The Victory of People’s War) represented the absolutizing of what was then the principal contradiction in the world (between oppressed nations and imperialism) — raising it out of context of world relations and contradictions in which it actually exists and treating it as a thing unto itself and virtually the only significant contradiction in the world. While recognizing the existence of revolutionary situations and favorable revolutionary prospects in many countries in the “third world” it exaggerated this into a tendency to treat the “third world” as an undifferentiated whole, ripe everywhere for revolution. Related to this, in upholding the importance of armed struggle as a necessary means for replacing the old order with the new and insisting on the fact that in many places in the “third world” it was possible and necessary to make armed struggle the main and immediate form of struggle — in opposition to the Soviet revisionist line that attempted to make economic development the main task in the “third world” neo-colonies — Lin Biao’s line exaggerated this to a point of virtually insisting that everywhere in the “third world” revolutionary warfare could and must be launched right away (in Long Live the victory, whether one dares to wage a people’s war is made the touchstone of distinguishing Marxism-Leninism from revisionism). As part of this whole line, the objective fact that the proletarian revolution had been delayed in the imperialist countries and that there was as yet no proletarian revolutionary movement there was absolutized, so that the prospect of such revolution in the imperialist countries was all but dismissed… But to attempt to cling to Lin Biaoism in the world situation of today, with all its profound changes since the 1960s, including the principal contradiction, can only have very serious and disastrous consequences…”
  5. Chi, Pen-yu. Patriotism or National Betrayal? Foreign Language Press. Peking, China: 1967, p. 48.
  6. Ibid., p. 35.
  7. Ibid., p. 25.
  8. Chen, Po-ta. Mao Tse-Tung and the Chinese Revolution. Foreign Language Press. Peking, China: 1953, p. 17.
  9. Whylie, Raymond F. The Emergence of Maoism. Standford University Press. USA: 1980, p. 288.
  10. Caldwell, Malcolm. The Revolutionary Role of the Peasants. International Socialism. December 1969/January 1970. Retrieved from:
    “Finally, one must say something of revolutionary prospects. Surveying the world today, it seems to me very clear that Lin Biao’s perspective conforms more closely to reality than that of traditional Trotskyism or mechanical Europocentric pseudo-Marxism. In his well known work Long Live the Victory of People’s War! Lin Biao envisages a global repetition of the drama of the Chinese revolution – that is, the isolation of the ‘urban’ (i.e. industrialised) areas of the world in a sea of rural revolution as a prelude to the collapse of the former. Now of course this must be interpreted more generously than literally. More and more, politics in the West will be the politics of reaction to events and initiatives elsewhere – in the tricontinents. This is already apparent, in marked contrast to the decades when Western initiatives shaped the entire world. The crises of the imperialist powers may provoke reactive internal dissension and even civil disturbance, but the causes will ultimately have to be sought in the seething world of the peasant poor. Certainly this bears more relation to reality than the idea, noted above, of an apathetic peasant poor awaiting salvation from revolutionary (and, note, white) industrial workers! Much comfort was taken by mechanistic Marxists from the abortive French ‘revolution’ of 1968. In fact, this was the graveyard of their ideas, since the workers were readily bought off by application of blatant labourism.” Interestingly, Caldwell was one of the few Westerners allowed into Democratic Kampuchea under Pol Pot. Caldwell was killed in Democratic Kampuchea after he had spoken with Pol Pot. Who exactly killed Caldwell is a mystery: Pol Pot? Pol Pot’s enemies? The Vietnamese? The CIA? Also see: Avakian, Bob. For a Harvest of Dragons. RCP Publications. USA: 1983, p. 150-151. See endnote 4 for Avakian’s discussion of Lin Biao’s line on the First World, including invasion of the First World. Also: An American propaganda film about Lin Biao’s Third World invasion of the Fist World:
  11. Robert Williams. Peking Review August 12, 1966. Retrieved from:….illiams1966.txt
    MIM’s dishonest approach can be seen in the commentary to this article on its website. MIM implies that since this speech appeared in Beijing Review that it reflected Mao’s line. Anyone familiar with Beijing Review should know that the overwhelming majority of articles on White workers go against the Leading Light line. The majority of articles go against the line of Robert F. Williams and MIM. The reduction of articles focusing on First World workers has less to do with Mao and more to do with the rise of Lin Biao in 1966. This is confirmed the following year when Robert F. Williams paraphrases Lin Biao’s Long Live the Victory of People’s War!
  12. Peking Review no. 34, August 18, 1967
  13. Ma Jisen. The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry. The Chinese University Press. Hong Kong, USA: 2004. p. 104
  14. Some notes on Lines within the Communist Party of China. LLCO. January 24, 2008. Retrieved from:
  15. Karol, K.S. The Second Chinese Revolution. Hill and Wang. USA: 1973. p. 280-281
  16. A heightened militancy exists in the media in the Summer of 1967. Beijing Review focuses more on People’s War during the so-called “hot summer” of 1967, the so-called “ultra-left” period. Peking Review no. 29 July 14, 1967 is a good example of the increased militancy found in its pages. Lin Biao is also featured often.
  17. Karol, K.S. The Second Chinese Revolution. Hill and Wang. USA: 1973. p. 282
  18. Chi Pen-yu Condemns British Fascist Atrocities in Hong Kong. Peking Review no. 24 June 9, 1967. p. 12
  19. Van Ginneken, Jaap. The Rise and Fall of Lin Piao. Avan Books. USA: 1977. pp. 39-41
  20. Ma Jisen. The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry. The Chinese University Press. Hong Kong, USA: 2004. pp. 406
  21. Lin Biao. Quotations from Chairman Mao (w/ Introduction by Lin Biao). Foreign Language Press. Beijing, China: 1967.
  22. Avakian, Bob. For a Harvest of Dragons. RCP Publications. USA: 1983. pp. 150-151
  23. Liquidation of Armed Struggle Means Shameful Betrayal of Proletarian Revolutionary Cause. Peking Review no. 30 July 31, 1967 pp. 26-28
  26. Harsh Thakor. Zhou En Lai’s 30th death anniversary. Retrieved from:
    This was also mentioned by MIM:
  27. Ma Jisen. The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry. The Chinese University Press. Hong Kong, USA: 2004. p. 311
  28. Amin, Samir. What Maoism has contributed. Monthly Review. September 2006. Retrieved from:
  29. The Sun Rises in the East and sets in the West. Monkey Smashes Heaven. January 1, 2008. Retrieved from:
  30. Banouin, Barbbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Kegan Paul International. USA: 1993. pp. 171-174
  31. Han Suyin. Wind in the Tower. Little, Brown and Company. USA: 1976. p. 336
  32. Banouin, Barbbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Kegan Paul International. USA: 1993. pp. 174-175
  33. Ma Jisen. The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry. The Chinese University Press. Hong Kong, USA: 2004. pp. 288-290
  34. Karol, K.S. The Second Chinese Revolution. Hill and Wang. USA: 1973. p. 282
  35. Enver Hoxha’s Reflections on China Part 2 of Vol. 1. Retrieved from:
  36. Enver Hoxha’s Reflections on China Part 3 of Vol. 1. Retrieved from:
  37. Ma Jisen. The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry. The Chinese University Press. Hong Kong, USA: 2004. p. 299
  38. Ma Jisen. The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry. The Chinese University Press. Hong Kong, USA: 2004. p. 123
  39. ibid. pp. 292-301
  40. Han Suyin. Wind in the Tower. Little, Brown and Company. USA: 1976. p. 346
  41. Speech by Vice-Chairman Lin Piao. Peking Review no. 41, October 9, 1970. pp. 14-13.
  42. Han Suyin. Wind in the Tower. Little, Brown and Company. USA: 1976. p. 346
  43. Karol, K.S. The Second Chinese Revolution. Hill and Wang. USA: 1973. p. 417
  44. Han Suyin. Wind in the Tower. Little, Brown and Company. USA: 1976. p. 348
  45. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 113
  46. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. pp. 114-116
  47. China: A Century of Revolution Part 2: The Mao Years (Sue Williams, Ambrica productions, 2002)
    Also, Li Zhisui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Random House Inc. 1994: USA. p. 387-388.
    According to Mao’s physician, Li Zhisui, “I remember that Mao said to Nixon, after our countries resume diplomatic relations, we’ll still have to curse you a little in our newspapers. Calling you Amerikan imperialists. You can also curse us a bit. This is just for show. Firing a few empty shots. It’ll be easier for ordinary people to accept. If we say that the Amerikan imperialists are no longer imperialists, and they have become friends of China, people will find it hard to accept.”
  48. Peking Review no. 52, December 26, 1975. Base on the titles, the subject index lists: 9 articles for 1975 that are only anti-United States; 21 articles that are pro-United States or neutral; 37 that are just anti-Soviet; 7 that are both anti-United States and anti-Soviet in the titles. This is based on the headlines in the subject index, not the content. However, this should give us an idea about the ratio of anti-Soviet to anti-United States articles in the Chinese media.
  49. This becomes incorporated into the plot of many media stories. An example of using ideological education to solve the problems of the Great Leap is discussed in an article in November 1969. The article discusses a commune in Hobei, then a Lin Biao stronghold. After some immediate successes, the commune put out a plan for even “a bigger leap forward.” Some members expressed pessimism at the new plan. The Lin Biao influenced Revolutionary Committee, arrived at the conclusion that “we are still lacking consciousness for continuing the revolution.” Ideological classes on Maoism led to the masses overcoming their pessimism. See: Mao Tse-tung Thought Guides Us in Conquering Nature. Peking Review no 47. November 21, 1969. pp. 5-8 Or see: Yi Shan. At the Taching Oilfield. Peking Review no. 30 July 23, 1971. pp. 8-12
  50. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 374
  51. Brugger, Bill. China: Radicalism to Revisionism 1962-1979. Croom Helm London Barnes and Noble Books. Great Britain: 1981. p. 126
  52. Banouin, Barbbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Kegan Paul International. USA: 1993. p. 176
  53. The Red Sun Lights the Road forward at Tachai. Foreign Language Press. China: 1969.
  54. Li Zhisui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Random House Inc. 1994: USA. p. 387-388
  55. See: Wu Chih-pu. From Agricultural Producers’ Cooperatives to People’s Communes. Hongqi No. 8, September 16, 1958.
  56. See: Wu Chih-pu. From Agricultural Producers’ Cooperatives to People’s Communes. Hongqi No. 8, September 16, 1958.; Hold High the Red Flag of People’s Communes and March On. Renminn Ribao editorial, September 3, 1966; Lin Tieh. The People’s Commune Movement in Hopei. Hongqi No. 9, October 1, 1958
  57. Becker, Jasper. Hungry Ghosts. Owl Books. USA: 1998. p. 121
  58. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 106
  59. New Era With Mao Tse-Tung’s Thought As Its Great Banner Acclaimed. Peking Review no. 2. January 12, 1968. p. 13
  60. In Guizhou, a Lin Biao stronghold, attributed their success in building a water conservancy project to their commune form of organization, to the Cultural Revolution and to Maoism. Before the commune was formed, only 34.7 percent of the paddyfields were irrigated. There was little electricity for lighting, pumping and processing produce. They boasted that they now had 41 mechanized pumping stations, 31 constructed during the Cultural Revolution. The built nine medium and small power stations.They now have 20 commune-run or brigade-run mechanized workshops, most built during the Cultural Revolution. Irrigation canals crisscross the commune, dotted by ponds and mechanized pumping stations. The commune’s power generating capacity had reached 540 kilowatts. This is enough to power tool making, rice husking, milling, and lights have been installed in the vast majority of the commune members’ homes. These success stories in the media were part of the attempt to build public opinion for a socialist push in the countryside. See: Growth of a Contingent of rural Technicians in Water Conservancy and Power Generating. Peking Review no. 6 February 7, 1969 pp. 4-6 Also, in Hubei, still a Lin Biao stronghold in 1968, media began reporting that never had there been such fine harvests. Zhejiang, another Lin stronghold at the time, reported the doubling of the fish harvest in places. This was in the backdrop of a general economic upswing across China. These reports would continue for at least the next two years. See: An Abundant Wheat Harvest. Peking Review No. 25 June 20, 1969 pp. 29-30 Also: Mao Tse-tung Thought Guides Us in Conquering Nature. Peking Review no 47 November 21, 1969 pp. 5-8 See: Excellent situation on China’s Industrial and Agricultural Fronts. Peking Review no. 39. September 25, 1971. pp. 5-7. Jiangxi, another Lin Biao stronghold, taking Dazhai as their model, reported huge gains in electrification, harvest output. See:A Look in South Kiangsi Mountain Area. Peking Review no. 52, December 31, 1971. p. 20
  61. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977 p. 61
  62. ibid.
  63. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977, p. 61
  64. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 373
  65. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 375
  66. Brugger, Bill. China: Radicalism to Revisionism 1962-1979. Croom Helm London Barnes and Noble Books. Great Britain: 1981. p. 129
  67. Becker, Jasper. Hungry Ghosts. Owl Books. USA: 1998. p. 80
  68. Brugger, Bill. China: Radicalism to Revisionism 1962-1979. Croom Helm London Barnes and Noble Books. Great Britain: 1981. p. 129
  69. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 95
  70. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 98
  71. Kwangtung Grain Production Hits All-time High. Peking Review no. 1 January 1, 1971. p. 16 Also: Zhejiang, a Lin Biao stronghold, and Shanghai, another leftist stronghold, were singled out in an already good harvest report in 1970. See: China Reaps Rich Harvest in 1970 Peking Review No. 2 January 8, 1971
  72. Speech by Vice-Chairman Lin Piao. Peking Review no. 41, October 9, 1970. pp. 14-13.
  73. Brugger, Bill. China: Radicalism to Revisionism 1962-1979. Croom Helm London Barnes and Noble Books. Great Britain: 1981. p. 129
  74. Brugger, Bill. China: Radicalism to Revisionism 1962-1979. Croom Helm London Barnes and Noble Books. Great Britain: 1981. p. 131
  75. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 381
  76. From “Hospital for Overloards” to Hospital of the Labouring People. Peking Review no. 5, January 29, 1971. pp. 14- 16
  77. A New Type of Military School. Peking Review no. 2 January 10, 1969. pp. 17-20
  78. A Co-operative Medial Service Greatly Welcomed by Poor and Lower-Middle Peasants. Peking Review no. 3 January 13, 1969. pp. 4-8
  79. Brugger, Bill. China: Radicalism to Revisionism 1962-1979. Croom Helm London. pp. 133-134
  80. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 378
  81. Follow Our Own Road in Developing Industry. Peking Review No. 30. July 23, 1971. p. 8
  82. The extension of the metaphor of people’s war to other spheres of work is part of this militariaztion. One article (see: Mao Tse-tung Thought Guides Us in Conquering Nature. Peking Review no 47 November 21, 1969 pp. 5-8) describes the battle of a commune with nature. Peasants are described as “armed with Mao Tse-tung Thought” in numerous cases. For example see: Marching Forward With Big Strides Under the Leadership of the Working Class. Peking Review No. 31 August 1, 1969. p. 11. See title: Great Truth, sharp Weapon. Peking Review #2, June 23, 1967. p. 19 This article describes Maoism as a weapon in the sphere of culture. Reactionary culture is even described as a “sugar-coated bullet.” This is part of the general militarization of language of the Cultural Revolution. This has obvious parallel to the militarization of society. Also: Mao Tse-tung Thought is the Soul of Party Building. Peking Review no. 28 July 11, 1969. p. 4 “…in placing Mao Tse-tung Thought in command of all their work. Keeping the problems they encountered in revolution and production in mind, they ran different types of Mao Tse-tung thought study classes in diligently studying and applying Mao Tse-tung Thought in a living way. Using Mao Tse-tung Thought as their weapon, they turned fields into battle fields.” p. 13
  83. Avakian, Bob. From Ike to Mao and Beyond. Insight Press. Chicago, USA: 2005. p. 254
  84. Zueping Zhong, Wang Zheng, and Bai Di. Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era. Rutgers University Press. USA: 2001. pp. 47-48
  85. Lin Piao. March Ahead Under the Red Flag of the Party’s General Line and Mao Tse-Tung’s Military Thinking. Foreign Language Press. Peking, China: 1959. p. 6-7
  86. Carry the Mass Movement for Creative Study and Application of Chairman Mao’s Works to a New Stage. Peking Review no. 42 October 14, 1966. p 6
  87. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 95
  88. Hupeh Provincial Revolutionary Committee Established. Peking Review no. 7. Feubruary 16, 1968. p. 25
  89. A PLA Company Amrs a Village With Mao Tse-tung’s Thought. Peking Review no. 7. February 16, 1968. p. 30
  90. Lin Biao. Report to the Ninth Congress of the Communist Party of China. Foreign Language Press. Beijing, China: 1969
  91. Proletarian Revolutionaries of the Higher Military Academy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The Revolutionary Mass Movement is the Locomotive for the Advance of History. Beijing Review no. 42 October 18, 1968
  92. ibid
  93. Carry the Mass Movement for Creative Study and Application of Chairman Mao’s Works to a New Stage. Peking Review no. 42. October 14, 1966. p. 7
  94. Lin Biao. “Why a Cultural Revolution?” in China’s Cultural Revolution 1966-1969, Not a Dinner Party edited by Michael Schoenhals. M E Sharpe. USA: 1996. pp. 17-18
  95. Summary of the Forum on the Work in Literature and Art in the Armed Forces With Which Comrade Lin Piao Entrusted Comrade Chiang Ching. Peking Review no. 23 June 2, 1967 p 10
  96. Review of Some Of Us, Part 3. LLCO. June, 15 2008. Retrieved from:
  97. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 112
  98. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 114
  99. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 116
  100. Bridgeham, Philip. Factionalism in the Central Committee. Party Leadership and Revolutionary Power in China edited by Lewis, John Wilson. Cambridge University Press. USA: 1970. pp. 213-215
  101. Teiwes, Fredrick C. The End of the Maoist Era. M. E. Sharpe. Inc. USA: 2007. p. 1 of introduction
  102. MacFarquhar, Roderick and Schoenals, Michael. Mao’s Last Revolution. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. USA: 2006. p. 339-340
  103. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 406
  104. Banouin, Barbbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Kegan Paul International. USA: 1993. p. 253
  105. Chen Boda was accused of upholding the Theory of Productive Forces based on a few lines from a draft report he had written for the Ninth Congress. However, Chen Boda, and the media outlets he controlled, wrote article after article against this revisionist theory. Was Chen Boda a revisionist? Was he inconsistent? Firstly, we don’t have the actual document in question. We only have what Chen Boda’s enemies have allowed into the public record. Polemics during the Cultural Revolution did not always reliably quote opponents. We can’t say for sure how damning the document was as a whole. We only have what his factional opponents want us to see. Secondly, Chen Boda was a ghostwriter for the Party. He had written or collaborated on documents with Mao in the past as Mao’s personal secretary. He probably wrote what he thought Mao wanted. After all, Chen Boda sought to widen the Cultural Revolution at key points. Mao sought to end it in 1969. Mao was personally involved in putting an end to the class war phase, the power seizure phase of the Cultural Revolution. Mao had shifted to the right, he had protected Zhou and the Adverse Current. Mao moved against Wang Li, Guan Feng, and Qi Benyu. All indications were that Mao sought a return to normalcy. In fact, Zhou Enlai had approved Chen Boda’s document. However, Mao still wished radical rhetoric to be included in the Ninth Congress. Thirdly, because of the purges of his associates on the CCRSG and the winding down of the mass movements, Chen Boda may have sought to position himself more toward the center. In the following year, Chen Boda still sought to implement radical measures. Perhaps, there was a disconnect between the rhetoric he was using to attempt to survive politically and his politics. After all, such disconnects were not uncommon. Even Mao was moving away from the rhetoric of the Ninth Congress on foreign policy and global outlook before it was even written. Fourthly, the post-1976 revisionists maintained that Chen Boda belonged both to the Lin Biao and Gang of Four cliques. The revisionists considered him an ultra-leftist, and imprisoned him for it. Fourthly, if the pre-1976 police narratives against the May 16 Corps, Chen Boda, and Lin Biao are all true, if they were all fakes, then it should be admitted that the Cultural Revolution itself was little more than high level opportunism dressed up with radical rhetoric. To accept the police narrative as it crystalized in the 1970s is to reject the Cultural Revolution. However, even these 1970s police narratives can’t help but criticize Chen Boda and others as ultra-left even as they claim they were rightists. This is why Mao repeatedly emphasizes that socialism exists over a long period of time and practices a commodity system in his criticisms. This is why Zhang Chunqiao has to defend himself against charges that he is attempting to stir up a wind of communization like Chen Boda in 1975.
  106. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 406
  107. PLA General Staff HQ Holds 4th Congree of Activists in the Creative Study and Application of Mao Tse-tung’s thought. Peking Review no. 19 March 8, 1968. p. 9
  108. Banouin, Barbbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Kegan Paul International. USA: 1993. p. 199
  109. China: A Century of Revolution. Retrieved from:
  110. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 406
  111. Brugger, Bill. China: Radicalism to Revisionism 1962-1979. Croom Helm London Barnes and Noble Books. Great Britain: 1981. p. 135-136
  112. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 104-117
  113. Domes, Jurgen. China After the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press. USA: 1977. p. 104
  114. Brugger, Bill. China: Radicalism to Revisionism 1962-1979. Croom Helm London Barnes and Noble Books. Great Britain: 1981. p. 137
  115. According to Jean Daubier, there was no disruption in the economy in terms of basic consumer goods from what she witnessed. She reports this was the case in Beijing and in other areas. See: Daubier, Jean. The History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Random House. USA: 1974. p. 261-262. Also see: Living Standards in China Improve. Peking Review no. 40 September 30, 1971. pp. 14-15
  116. New Era With Mao Tse-Tung’s Thought As Its Great Banner Acclaimed. Peking Review no. 2. January 12, 1968. p. 13
  117. Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 407
  118. Ma Jisen. The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry. The Chinese University Press. Hong Kong, USA: 2004. p. 353-354
  119. Jean Daubier points to the obvious fact that Zhou Enlai could not had dealt with Lin Biao and Chen Boda by himself. Rather, it is obvious that Mao was backing Zhou Enlai against Lin Biao and Chen Boda. See: Daubier, Jean. The History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Random House. USA: 1974. p. 275
  120. Meisner, Maurice. Free Press. USA: 1986. p. 412
  121. Karol, K.S. The Second Chinese Revolution. Hill and Wang. USA: 1973. p. 445

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