(On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of China)
Impact of Cultural Revolution on Industries and Agriculture
At the time of establishment of the People’s Republic of China, its industrial base was smaller than that of Belgium, a small country. Its gross industrial production was one fifth of that of Belgium. During Mao’s time Industrial production of China increased by 13.5 per cent per annum. The growth of industrialization in this period was much more than in any other country. It was above the industrial development in Germany, Japan and Soviet Union. During the Cultural Revolution workers rejected material incentives. They followed the policy of Mao – stick to revolution, develop production and political work is the life line of all the economic work. In the Third, Fourth and the Fifth Five Year Plans of this period, the Chinese government invested 316,642 billion Yuan for infrastructure. Industrial properties increased to 215,740 billion Yuan. By 1979, there were 355,000 industries. This was 2.25 fold when compared to 1965. These industries went under the government ownership all over the country. There were nearly 4,500 large and medium scale industries. Between 1967 and 1976, production in the oil sector increased by 18.6 per cent per annum. By 1978 the annual oil production reached 100 million tons. This was five times more than that of 1965. Growth rate of 9.2 per cent per annum continued in coal, chemicals and electricity during the ten years of Cultural Revolution. From 1965 to mid 1970 China invested 205 billion Yuan in the third line (public sector) industries. Steel Plants, Industries manufacturing machine equipment, Aeroplane manufacturing industries, Space programs and Electronic Plants were established in the Middle and the Western areas. By the end of 1970, the industrial properties of the third line reached one third of the total industrial properties of China. Industrial production increased 3.92 times. Industrial production in the Middle and the Western areas became strategically very important to the National Security of China as either a Nation or a Country. It improved the gross industrial growth of China. Production plans were formulated not for high profits but to fulfil the necessities of the society. Especially, dependence on foreign technology of the Soviet or the Western countries in the factories in the government sector was criticized. The Dauking oil fields of North East China were opened with the Chinese resources and engineering and work was initiated. They highlighted them as a national example for new methods of production and products that suit the conditions of China. This policy helped to protect the political independence of China. Mao emphasized self-reliance and also said technology should be imported if necessary. In 1972 Mao and Chou En Lai together accepted a scheme to import 26 foreign industrial plants and an investment of 5 billion dollars. With the construction of a big group of Oil and Chemical plants the production of fertilisers, chemicals and artificial textiles increased. In this period 13 big fertilizer factories were constructed. The production of these factories was equal to one fifth of the production in the Chinese chemical fertilizers. In 1970s, China constructed many small scale chemical fertilizer factories. By 1978 there were 1,534 small chemical fertilizer factories in China. These small fertilizer factories played an important role in the agricultural growth of the country. In 1960s and 1970s America and other Western countries spread ‘green revolution’ technical know how to backward countries like India, Mexico, Brazil, Philippines and others. The spread of ‘green revolution’ technology had a destructive impact on the agriculture in these backward countries. Chemical fertilisers, pesticides and heavy machinery enhanced agricultural production. But with the growth of production crop prices fell. Moreover, the price of productivity gradually went up. Many small peasants could not cope up with the ups and downs in the market. A large number of small peasants became bankrupt. They lost their lands. They had to migrate to the towns for livelihood. The emergence of large scale slums and excessive increase in homeless people in the backward countries is the consequence of the technical spread of ‘green revolution’ of the Western countries. This intensified the crisis in agriculture, rural areas and the peasantry by three times. It is difficult to assess the impact of this crisis now. China was the only country that could avoid this agrarian crisis. This was the result of its collective agricultural methods. Organized Chinese peasants developed indigenous agricultural (green) revolution in their own style. Chinese peasants had collective ownership on land. They distributed the results of agricultural (green) revolution technique equally. They avoided the destructive ill effects and thus benefited from it. The indigenous (selfreliant) agricultural revolutionary technique reduced the intensity of agricultural labour. In addition to this, it helped for the emergence of many rural agricultural industries. Due to the emergence of these rural agricultural industries the peasants had to leave their fields to participate in the industrial work. But they did not have to leave their villages. During the Cultural Revolution, the development of this agricultural revolutionary technique, the utilization of the locally made agricultural machinery and the emergence of rural industries increased the level of the living standards of Chinese farmers. Two contradictory slogans in agriculture – one was ‘Learn from Tachai’ of Mao and another ‘Learn from Tao Yuvan’ of Li Shao Chi stood as the symbols of two lines in agriculture. Tachai, which was in Shansi province an area full of stones and rocks with diminished fertility of land. A brigade of Tachai commune worked with the spirit of self-reliance. It removed rocks, built walls like partitions, dug the soil and levelled the land and turned the hills and the streams into fertile lands without support from the government. This change was possible because of the long term political education, through collective efforts and the firm struggle against individualism and the feeling of private property. Tachai stood first in implementing the new basis to develop the capacity to work of every member of the brigade in a year, in the place of applying work point system. This reflected in the collective consciousness, in the capacity to work and in leading others in the collective projects. Due to the direct material incentives, it left the aspect of how much productive capacity the brigade members could bring about. Tao Yuvan was a brigade formed in a commune in East Hopei plains. The natural conditions are favourable for large scale production and excess results. Li Shao Chi’s followers selected this brigade and provided special help with the feeling that they could gain considerable results through investment. But this brigade did less in a long time. It could not maintain the excess results gained initially. So it lost morale and political consciousness. When they faced difficulties the brigade members demanded the help of the government instead of organizing themselves to spend their whole power. The party cadres of Tao Yuvan gave importance to machines and techniques instead of humans and their consciousness thus being a negative example. The dependence on material incentives led to disunity and clashes among the peasantry. The difference between the ‘Tachai line’ and the ‘Tao Yuvan line’ was in essence that between ‘putting politics in command’ and ‘putting technique in command’. This reflects the main difference in the lines of Mao and Li Shao Chi. While Mao suggested that cooperation was important than mechanization, Li Shao Chi said the opposite. As Mao suggested, ‘keeping politics in command’ means one must depend on the poor and the middle peasantry to build Socialism. The forces of production in agriculture would develop depending on continuing revolution in the relations of production and consciousness. The meaning of ‘keeping technique in command’ of Li Shao Chi is to put bourgeois politics in command upon proletarian politics. His emphasis on technique dismisses class struggle and transformation of forces of production. It does not pay attention to develop forces of production and to raise the consciousness. It only strengthens bourgeois relations of production. Keeping technique in command is not an alternate line to the building of Socialism. On the contrary it is the way for capitalist restoration. This is an attempt to destroy the People’s Communes that are working as the organs of People’s power and as the units of production. It is an attempt to destroy the cooperative basis of land and other instruments of production. It is leaving the farmers on their own in production and market. It is weakening the most important worker-peasant unity in building Socialism and separating the close relation between agriculture and industry. Cultural Revolution united all the revolutionary forces in the rural area by overcoming narrow self interest in them through study, self-criticism and mutual criticism. It strengthened the ownership of these forces, their collective production and collective social services in the path of mutual unity. It defeated the conspiracies of bourgeois class forces.