Doctrine of Confucius and Mencius —The Shackle That Keeps Women In Bondage1974 -article is reprinted from Peking Review, #10, March 8, 1974,
Acute Struggle Between the Two Lines
Under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Communist Party of China, our country has completely buried the evil system oppressing women and has fundamentally eliminated the root cause—the rule of the exploiting classes—that subjected the masses of working women to oppression and exploitation. The establishment of the socialist system in our country has opened up a broad avenue for the emancipation of women. Today, women’s position in the political, economic and cultural fields as well as in family life has been raised to an unprecedented degree.
But the acute struggle between the two classes and the two lines on the question of women’s emancipation is still there. Following in the footsteps of the monarchs of the old feudal dynasties, Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao, representatives of the landlord and capitalist classes who had wormed their way into the Party, tried to peddle the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius under the signboard of Marxism-Leninism. They talked such nonsense as “the female sex is backward,” “a woman cannot be expected to have a bright future,” “a woman’s future is determined by that of her husband,” “a woman must devote herself to her husband” and so on. They discriminated against women, belittled the role of women and tried to prevent them from taking part in the three great revolutionary movements—class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment. Their attempt was to make women docile tools and philistines paying no attention to the politics of the proletariat and showing no interest in the affairs of the state and the world. And they tried to drive women who constitute half the nation’s population back into the small courtyards of their respective homes, barring them from taking part in the socialist revolution and construction. All this was meant to serve their needs in trying to subvert the proletarian dictatorship and restore capitalism. Such was the criminal design of Lin Piao and his gang. But the course of history is always opposite to the wishes of the reactionaries: The fond dream of a handful of opportunists who were against the historical current has been shattered and nothing can stem the torrent of the women’s liberation movement.
The influence of the ideas of contempt for women caused by feudal rule in our country for more than 2,000 years still lingers on to this day. As Lenin said: “When the old society perishes, its corpse cannot be nailed up in a coffin and lowered into the grave. It disintegrates in our midst; the corpse rots and infects us.”
“The Communist Revolution,” solemnly declared Marx and Engels in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, “is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” The class basis of the concept of “male superiority and female inferiority” is the exploiting classes, and it is the masses of people, especially the masses of the working women, who are the victims. This ideology of the exploiting classes is completely incompatible with the socialist economic base and socialist political institutions. The mass movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius is forcefully sweeping away the old ideas of looking down on women and the ideology of the exploiting classes as a whole. This movement will surely create still more favourable conditions for the thorough emancipation of the women of China.
[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #10, March 8, 1974, pp. 16-18.]