We often reference to putting “politics-in-command” and contrast this policy with those we find revisionist. But what exactly does this mean and how does it relate to the revolutionary science? Here we hope to shed some light on this critical issue.
Originally found in Peking Review No. 30 published in July of 1969 the following is an analysis of the respective policy and how it was applied to the development of socialism in the People’s Republic of China. The online copy, posted by Signal Fire, can be found here.
Putting “politics-in-command” is key to the correct application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in opposition to right or ‘left’ deviations; the difference between revolutionary science and revisionism. The historicity of this principle is intimately connected with the socialist experience of China; the Party struggle against revisionism and subsequent developments following the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
The following is the original work of Ko Cheng published by thePeking Review. All views therein are solely those of the original author/publisher and may not necessarily reflect those held by Anti-imperialism.com
by Ko Cheng
HOW to handle the relationship between politics and economics and between revolution and production after the seizure of political power by the proletariat is an important question of whether or not to uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat, really take the socialist road and undertake genuine socialist economic construction.
Our great leader Chairman Mao’s teachings that politics is the commander, the soul in everything, that “political work is the life-blood of all economic work,” and the great principle he advanced of “grasping revolution, promoting production” have, theoretically and in practice, correctly solved this question and creatively developed Marxism-Leninism. These teachings of Chairman Mao’s are our basic guiding thought in successfully carrying out socialist revolution and socialist construction.
On the question of the relationship between politics and economics, there has always been a fierce struggle between Marxism and revisionism.
From the end of 1920 to the beginning of 1921, when the Soviet Union was at the crucial juncture of preparing for the transition to economic restoration, Lenin carried on a great debate with Trotsky, Bukharin and other anti-Party groups on the question of the trade union, centring round the relationship between politics and economics. During the debate, Lenin held that one should, first of all, take a political approach and that the trade union should be a school of communism, a transmission belt by means of which the Party maintained ties with the masses so as to strengthen the leadership of the Party and consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat. Opposing Lenin’s viewpoint, Trotsky held that the “economic” approach should be adopted; he demanded that the trade unions be “governmentalized” to become organs in charge of production.
This was an attempt by Trotsky to undermine the dictatorship of the proletariat and put an end to the leading role of the Party in economic construction. In this debate, Bukharin adopted double-dealing tactics and did his best to shield Trotsky. He blabbed that one should overcome the “one-sidedness” of the political approach and combine the two sides in the controversy, declaring that the political approach and the “economic” approach were equally important and that both could be taken.
Lenin shattered the fallacies of Trotsky and Bukharin during the debate. Defining the interrelation between politics and economics, Lenin pointed out: “Politics is a concentrated expression of economics.” In other words, the basic class interests and the interrelation between classes find concentrated expression in politics. No class which has lost political power can retain its dominance in the economic field. Lenin said: “The most essential, the ‘decisive* interests of classes can be satisfied only by radical political changes in general. In particular the fundamental economic interests of the proletariat can be satisfied only by a political revolution that will replace the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie by the dictatorship of the proletariat” The dictatorship of the proletariat is the most concentrated expression of socialist economy, and is the basic guarantee for establishing, consolidating and developing socialist economy.
Proceeding from this basic viewpoint that politics is a concentrated expression of economics, Lenin put forward in clear-cut terms the brilliant concept of putting politics first. He said: “Politics cannot but have precedence over economics. To argue differently means forgetting the ABC of Marxism.” Lenin also pointed out that Bukharin’s fallacy of placing economics on a par with politics amounted to a “substitution of eclecticism for the dialectical interplay of politics and economics.” Refuting the fallacies of Trotsky and Bukharin — their opposition to putting politics first under the pretext of showing “concern for production”. Lenin said: “Without a correct political approach to the matter the given class will be unable to stay on top, and, consequently, will be incapable of solving its production problem either.” By openly using the “economic” approach to oppose the political approach, Trotsky clearly revealed his opportunist features. Bukharin’s eclecticism, on the other hand, was opportunism in a different guise. He used the so-called “all-round viewpoint” to give equal importance to both politics and economics. Such seemingly impartial but double-dealing tricks were even more deceitful. In fact, both Trotsky and Bukharin wanted politics. What they wanted, however, was bourgeois politics, not proletarian politics, and their attempt was to divert economic construction to the capitalist road.
Chairman Mao has summed up the historical experience, both positive and negative, of the dictatorship of the proletariat and formulated the great theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. For the first time, he has clearly pointed out that, after great victory has been won in the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production, there are still classes and class struggle, the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between the socialist road and the capitalist road, that there is the danger of capitalist restoration, and that the proletariat must continue the revolution. If we depart from the dictatorship of the proletariat and not continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, then socialist production cannot develop and genuine socialist construction cannot be carried out.
The result can only be capitalist restoration. In the great practice of leading China’s socialist revolution and socialist construction and in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution initiated and lea” by himself, Chairman Mao has incisively criticized the counter-revolutionary revisionist line of the renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi for the restoration of capitalism and shattered the bourgeois headquarters headed by Liu Shao-chi. This has provided the basic guarantee that China’s economic construction will continue to advance in giant strides along the socialist road.
Proceeding from the actual conditions of China’s socialist revolution and socialist construction, Chairman Mao has creatively solved the question of what is genuine socialist economic construction and how to carry it out. Chairman Mao has set forth the brilliant concept that, in socialist economic construction, it is imperative to give prominence to proletarian politics and to put politics in command of economics, and formulated the general line of “going all out, aiming high and achieving greater, faster, better and more economical results in building socialism,’* the great strategic principles of “maintaining independence and keeping the initiative in our own hands and relying on our own efforts” and “be prepared against war, be prepared against natural disasters, and do everything for the people” as well as a series of other proletarian economic policies.
During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao has enunciated the great principle of “grasping revolution, promoting production.” As Vice-Chairman Lin Piao pointed out in his political report to the Ninth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the principle of “grasping revolution, promoting production” “correctly explains the relationship between revolution and production, between consciousness and matter, between the superstructure and the economic base and between the relations of production and the productive forces.
This means that we must use revolution to command production, promote it and lead it forward. Chairman Mao’s brilliant thinking that politics is in command of economics and revolution is in command of production is the beacon lighting up the road forward for us in consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, preventing capitalist restoration and building socialism. It is, moreover, a sharp weapon in the criticism of modern revisionism.
Since its usurpation of the leadership of the Soviet Party and state, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has thoroughly betrayed Lenin’s teachings and taken over the mantle of Trotsky, frantically advocating such reactionary fallacies as “economics is more important than politics,”‘ “production comes first,” and so on and so forth. The renegades of this clique exaggerate the decisive importance of the productive forces and science and technique to the exclusion of all other factors, and utter the nonsense that the “policy”‘ and “line” of building communism is to “establish a material and technical foundation.” Do they really want to develop socialist “production”? No, absolutely not. Their sole purpose of spreading these counter-revolutionary fallacies is to oppose proletarian politics, disintegrate the economic foundation of socialism and restore the capitalist economy which plunders foreign countries and exploits the people at home, thereby making this economy the base of Soviet revisionist social-imperialism in stepping up the all-round restoration of capitalism.
Going against the trend of history, the Soviet revisionist renegade clique has already brought extremely serious adverse effects to the Soviet economy: Industrial and agricultural production is beset with difficulties, commodities are extremely short in supply, black markets are rampant, prices are soaring, and the broad masses of the exploited labouring people are becoming more and more impoverished.
Like the Soviet revisionists, Liu Shao-chi also advocated such reactionary fallacies as “production comes first,” “technique comes first,” and so on. In so doing, he wanted the proletariat and the revolutionary people to forget proletarian politics and “only grasp the production of grain, cotton and edible oil, and make no distinction between our enemies, our friends and ourselves.” In fact, Liu Shao-chi and company never put production and technique first. They gave first place to bourgeois politics; their sinister scheme was to lead China’s socialist construction astray on to the road of capitalist restoration. Under the signboard of “production comes first” and “technique comes first,” they did their utmost to keep a firm grip on the superstructure and usurped the leadership in many central and local units. Before the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, some enterprises were only nominally under socialist ownership while actually leadership in these enterprises was usurped by a handful of renegades, enemy agents and capitalist-roaders, or were still under the control of the capitalists who had owned them. Socialist production in these enterprises was sabotaged. If we had not launched a revolution in the superstructure, seized back that part of power usurped by the bourgeoisie and smashed Liu Shao-chi’s revisionist line, the socialist economic base would have been destroyed and socialist ownership would have gradually changed in essence.
In order to put politics in command of economics and revolution in command of production, we must correctly handle the relationship between consciousness and matter. Creatively setting forth the great concept of from matter to consciousness and then back to matter, Chairman Mao has pointed out: “It is man’s social being that determines his thinking. Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force which changes society and changes the world.”
According to Chairman Mao’s teaching, we should not only go in for material construction, but, more important still, we should promote the revolutionization of man’s thinking and use revolutionization to lead mechanization. In regard to methods, our socialist economic construction and development of production is entirely different from imperialism and modern revisionism. We rely neither on coercion nor on material incentives, but on giving prominence to proletarian politics and putting Mao Tsetung Thought in command. Mao Tsetung Thought is a spiritual atom bomb of infinite power. Once Mao Tsetung Thought is grasped’ by the broad masses, it becomes an inexhaustible source of revolutionary vigour and creativeness. The deep-going and sustained mass campaign of studying and applying Mao Tsetung Thought in a living way is a great spiritual force promoting the development of our socialist undertakings in every field with gi-eater, faster, better and more economical results.
Throwing the communist revolutionary spirit advocated by Lenin to the wind, Khrushchov, Brezhnev and the other renegades have extensively pushed the so-called “new economic system” in the Soviet Union, using “material incentives’ and “the principle of profits” as its core, turning the relationship between men into the capitalist relationship of money transactions.
This is a reactionary measure taken by them in restoring capitalism. Pursuing the same sinister purpose, Liu Shao-chi also frantically advocated “putting profits in command” and “material incentives” in China’s socialist economic construction in a vain attempt to use “money” and counter-revolutionary bourgeois egoism to corrupt the broad masses of workers, poor and lower-middle peasants and revolutionary cadres, and make them forget class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The working class and the poor and lower-middle peasants of our country have emphatically criticized these reactionary viewpoints.
Giving prominence to proletarian politics or using “material incentives” is a struggle between the two classes — the proletariat and the bourgeoisie — and between the two roads — the socialist road and the capitalist road. Only by never forgetting to give prominence to proletarian politics can we mobilize the initiative of the broad masses of the revolutionary people, can we have the correct political orientation in every aspect of economic work, expose and smash the activities of a handful of counter-revolutionaries or capitalist elements which sabotage socialist production, guarantee the socialist nature of our economic construction, and promote the rapid development of the socialist productive forces.
If we do not correctly handle the relationship between politics and economics, then our economic construction will go astray, and there will be the danger that whatever victories we have achieved with regard to state power and in the economic field will be lost. We must use Mao Tsetung Thought as our weapon to carry on a sustained criticism of such reactionary fallacies as “material incentives” and “putting profits in command,” and eliminate the pernicious effects of Liu Shao-chi’s counter-revolutionary revisionist line.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China is a great political revolution. In the course of this great revolution, the bourgeois headquarters headed by Liu Shao-chi has been shattered, the proletariat has seized back that portion of power usurped by the bourgeoisie, and all-round dictatorship of the proletariat is exercised in every sphere of the superstructure. The socialist economic base has thus been consolidated and strengthened. As stated in the Decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (the 16-Point Decision): “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is a powerful motive force for the development of the social productive forces in our country.” In his political report to the Party’s Ninth National Congress, Vice-Chairman Lin Piao has announced to the whole world that a thriving situation prevails in our country’s industrial and agricultural production and in science and technology, and that China is now a socialist country with neither internal nor external debts.
These are splendid achievements by the people throughout the country in vigorously grasping revolution and energetically promoting production. They are also great victories for Chairman Mao’s principle of “grasping revolution, promoting production.” U.S. imperialism, Soviet revisionism and all reaction are extremely panic-stricken by this great revolution in our country. They vilify that China’s industrial and agricultural production has been “destroyed,” and slander that its economic construction is “collapsing.” But facts have dealt them a harsh blow. What has been “destroyed” in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution are the old ideas of the bourgeoisie, and what has “collapsed” is the renegade clique of Liu Shao-chi, the running dog of the U.S. imperialists, Soviet revisionists and the Kuomintang reactionaries, together with its line of restoring capitalism.
The dictatorship of the proletariat of our country has become more consolidated and more powerful than ever. Our country’s socialist production is flourishing and is getting better and better. It is certain that the great victories in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution will help bring about a new leap forward in our socialist economic construction!