Carry on the Enduring Spirit of Mao Zedong Thought*
December 26, 2013
The enduring spirit of Mao Zedong Thought refers to the stand, viewpoint and method crystalized in the Thought, which features three basic tenets – seeking truth from facts, the mass line and independence. In the new conditions, we should uphold and apply the enduring spirit of Mao Zedong Thought in building our Party and advancing the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
As a fundamental tenet of Marxism, seeking truth from facts is a basic requirement for Chinese Communists to understand and transform the world. It is also our Party's basic thinking, working and leading approach. We have upheld and should continue to uphold the principle of proceeding from reality in everything we do, integrating theory with practice, and testing and developing truth in practice.
Mao Zedong once said, "'Facts' are all the things that exist objectively, 'truth' means their internal relations, that is, the laws governing them, and 'to seek' means to study."1 He also used the metaphor "shooting the arrow at the target," that is, we should shoot the "arrow" of Marxism at the "target" of China's revolution, modernization drive and reform.
To seek truth from facts, we must acquire a deep understanding of a matter as it is, see through the surface into the heart of the matter, and discover the intricate link between matters amidst fragmented phenomena.
We should follow objective laws on the basis that we recognize the existence of a matter and its development laws. Upholding the principle of seeking truth from facts is not done once and for all. You may succeed by following the principle at a certain place and at a certain time, but that does not mean that you may succeed again by following the principle at another place and at another time. The conclusion or experience drawn at a certain place and at a certain time does not necessarily apply at another place and at another time. We should conscientiously strengthen our conviction in seeking truth from facts and enhance our ability to apply it. We should always bear it in mind and implement it in our work.
As we stand now, seeking truth from facts means that we should clearly understand our basic national condition, that is, our country is still in the primary stage of socialism, and will remain so for a long time to come. When advancing reform and development, and formulating guidelines and policies, we should do everything in line with this basic national condition. Any tendency to pursue quick success regardless of objective conditions and timing should be avoided, and any outdated or complacent ideas and actions which do not conform to reality, or which neglect fundamental changes of reality, should be corrected without exception.
While seeking truth from facts, we should always uphold the truth and correct mistakes for the sake of the people's interest. We should be frank, selfless and fearless, courageously speak out truth based on facts, discover and correct ideological deviations and mistakes in decision-making and work as soon as they arise, and discover and solve all kinds of conflicts and problems when they come up so as to make our thoughts and acts conform to objective laws, the requirement of the times and the wishes of the people.
In seeking truth from facts, we should promote theoretical innovation based on practice. The basic tenets of Marxism are universal truth with eternal ideological value. Nevertheless, the classical Marxist authors did not exhaust truth but blazed a trail to seek and develop truth. Today, new problems will arise while we adhere to and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, drive reform to a deeper level, and deal effectively with foreseeable and unpredictable difficulties and risks on our way ahead. All these things are crying out for new and appropriate theoretical solutions. We should review the fresh experience gained by the people under the leadership of the Party, constantly adapt Marxism to Chinese conditions and make contemporary Marxism shine brighter in China.
The mass line is the Party's lifeline and fundamental work principle. It is a cherished tradition that enables our Party to maintain its vitality and combat capability. We have always been and will always be obligated to do everything in the interests of the people and rely on their strength, and carry out the principle of "from the people, to the people," translating the Party's policies into the people's conscientious action and implementing the mass line in all government activities.
The mass line in essence encapsulates the basic tenet of Marxism that the people are the creators of history. We must adhere to this principle in order to grasp the basic laws governing the advance of history. We must observe these laws so that we can be invincible. History has time and again proved that the people are the major force behind historical development and social progress. As Mao Zedong said, "Once China's destiny is in the hands of the people, China, like the sun rising in the east, will illuminate every corner of the land with a brilliant flame."2
Adhering to the mass line is recognizing that the people are the fundamental force in deciding our future and destiny. The strong foundation keeping the Party invincible lies in our adhering to the people's principal position in the country, and bringing their initiative into full play. Before the people, we are always students. Therefore we must seek advice from them. We must fully respect their wishes, experience, rights and role. We should cherish the power conferred on us by the people and exercise it discreetly, and welcome their supervision. We should rely closely on them to create historic achievements, so as to make the foundation of our Party rock-solid.
Adhering to the mass line means following the fundamental tenet of serving the people wholeheartedly.
"Decrees may be followed if they are in accordance with the aspirations of the people; they may be ineffective if they are against the aspirations of the people."3 Serving the people wholeheartedly is the fundamental purpose and outcome of all the work of the Party, and a symbol that distinguishes our Party from all other parties. The supreme criterion for all Party actions is that it serves the interests of the great majority of the people. The effectiveness of all our work should ultimately be measured by the real benefits the people have reaped, by the improvement in their lives and by how well their rights and interests are protected. Their expectation for a better life does not allow us to be complacent or slack, but requires us to work harder to enable everyone to share more fruits of development in a fairer way and move steadily towards common prosperity.
Adhering to the mass line means maintaining close ties between the Party and the people. The supreme political advantage of our Party is its close ties with the people, and the biggest danger for a ruling party is for it to become divorced from the people. Mao Zedong said, "We Communists are like seeds, and the people are like the soil. Wherever we go, we must unite with the people, take root and blossom among them."4 All Party members should bear in mind the concept of people first and the mass line, and put them into practice. We should do our utmost to solve problems within the Party and especially those the people are particularly dissatisfied with, so that our Party can always have their trust and support.
Adhering to the mass line means asking the people to judge our work. "It is the people who know whether a decree is good or not."5 The future and destiny of any political party is determined by the popular support for it. Popular support is what we draw our strength from. The number of Party members is small compared to that of the people. The grand goal of our Party can never be realized without popular support. It is not up to us to judge our Party's governance capacity or performance; they must and can only be judged by the people, the supreme and ultimate judge of the Party's work. If we are pretentious and divorce ourselves from the people or put ourselves above them, we will surely be abandoned by them. This is the case for any party, and is an iron law which admits of no exception.
Independence is an inevitable conclusion drawn by our Party from China's reality, after going through the stages of revolution, development and reform by relying on the strength of the Party and the people. We should always rely on ourselves when seeking our national development and defending our national pride and confidence, and resolutely follow our own road now and in the future as we did in the past.
Independence is a fine tradition of the Chinese nation and an essential principle for building the Party and the PRC. The reality and the mission to carry out revolution and development in China, an Eastern country with a large population and backward economy, have determined that we have no other choice but to follow our own path.
Boasting a vast land of 9.6 million sq km, a rich cultural heritage and a strong bond among the 1.3 billion Chinese people, we are resolved to go our own way. We have a big stage to display our advantages on, a long and rich history to draw benefit from, and a powerful impetus to push us ahead. We Chinese people – every single one of us – should draw confidence from this.
Adhering to independence means that Chinese affairs must be dealt with and decided by the Chinese people themselves. There is no such thing in the world as a development model that can be applied universally, nor is there any development path that remains carved in stone. The diversity of historical conditions determines the diversity of the development paths chosen by various countries. In the whole history of mankind, no nation or state has ever been able to rise to power and rejuvenate itself by relying solely on external forces or blindly following others; doing so inevitably leads to failure or subservience.
Our Party has always independently explored its own development path while leading revolution, development and reform. This spirit of independent exploration and practice, and the confidence and determination to stick to its own road is the bedrock of all the theories and practice of our Party, and the guarantee that our Party and people will go from victory to victory.
Adhering to independence means that we will firmly take the socialist path with Chinese characteristics. We will not take the old path of a rigid closed-door policy, nor an erroneous path by abandoning socialism. We should enhance our political faith and our confidence in the path, theories and systems of Chinese socialism. We should expand this path, enrich these theories and improve these systems through comprehensive reform and in response to changing conditions and tasks. We should modestly draw on the achievements of all other cultures, but never forget our own origin. We must not blindly copy the development models of other countries nor accept their dictation.
Adhering to independence requires us to uphold our independent foreign policy of peace, and follow the path of peaceful development. We should hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and benefit for all, maintain friendly relations with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence6, conduct exchanges and cooperation with other countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, staunchly safeguard world peace, and promote common development. We should take our positions and make our policies on issues on their own merits, uphold fairness and justice, respect the right of each people in deciding its own development path independently, and never force our will upon others nor allow anyone to impose theirs upon us. We stand for peaceful resolutions to international disputes, oppose all forms of hegemony and power politics, and never seek hegemonism nor engage in expansion. We will resolutely defend our sovereignty, security and development interests. No country should assume that we will trade away our core interests, nor will we accept anything that harms our sovereignty, security or development interests.
* Part of the speech at the symposium to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth.
1 Mao Zedong: "Reform Our Study," Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. III, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1965, p. 22. 2 Mao Zedong: "Address to the Preparatory Meeting of the New Political Consultative Conference," Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. IV, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1961, p. 408.
3 Guan Zi, compiled by Liu Xiang, is a collection of writings by scholars of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) in the name of Guan Zhong. Liu Xiang (c. 77-6 BC) was a Confucian scholar, bibliographer, and man of letters of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25). Guan Zhong (?-645 BC), also known as Guan Zi, was a statesman of the State of Qi in the early Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).
4 Mao Zedong: "On the Chongqing Negotiations," Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. IV, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1961, p. 58.
5 Wang Chong: Discourses Weighed in the Balance (Lun Heng), which drew extensively on Confucianism, Taoism and Mohism, and the achievements in the natural sciences in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and criticized the theology and divination popular in his time. Wang Chong (27-c. 97) was a philosopher, thinker and literary critic in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).
6 The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence are the principles of mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. From December 1953 to April 1954 delegates of the Chinese government and the Indian government held negotiations on China-India relations concerning the Tibet region of China. On December 31, 1953, the first day of the negotiations, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai met the delegation from India, and first put forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Later, the five principles were officially written into the preamble to the Agreement on Trade and Intercourse Between the Tibet Region of China and India. During his visit to India and Burma (Myanmar) in June 1954, Zhou issued joint declarations with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Burmese Prime Minister U Nu successively, advocating the establishment of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as the basic norm governing relations between states.
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